Key moments as Truss and Sunak face grilling from Tory members during TV debate
From skeletons in their closets and clashes over their economic policies as the Bank of England warns of a long recession, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have discussed at length a range of topics during their latest televised debate.
The two Tory leadership hopefuls took part in Sky News’ The Battle for Number 10 on Thursday night, which saw them separately taking questions from party members.
They were also both interviewed by Sky News’ presenter Kay Burley.
Here are the key points raised during the 90-minute-long TV event.
– Ms Truss and Mr Sunak clashed over their economic policies after the Bank of England warned of a long recession
The Foreign Secretary insisted a recession is not inevitable when asked about the Bank of England’s forecast for an outright recession and 13% inflation.
She told the studio audience: “What the Bank of England have said today is of course extremely worrying, but it is not inevitable. We can change the outcome and we can make it more likely that the economy grows.”
She said she wanted to keep taxes low and “do all we can to grow the economy by taking advantage of our post-Brexit freedom, unleashing investment, changing things like the procurement rules and doing things differently”.
On the other hand, the former chancellor warned Ms Truss’s plan would make the dire economic situation worse, warning of “misery for millions” by pouring “fuel on the fire”.
He said: “We in the Conservative party need to get real and fast because the lights on the economy are flashing red and the root cause is inflation.
“I’m worried that Liz Truss’s plans will make the situation worse.”
– Ms Truss said she has ‘no skeletons’ in her closet and Mr Sunak insisted he never benefitted financially from tax havens
Ms Truss insisted she has nothing to hide, telling the Sky News debate: “There are no skeletons in my closet.
“I think everything I’ve ever said and done is known about very publicly.”
Meanwhile, the former chancellor was asked if he had ever benefitted financially by tax havens, to which he quickly replied “no”.
When told about Theleme Partners, a venture capital firm he co-founded, which was registered in the Cayman Islands, Mr Sunak said: “I personally have absolutely never ever benefited and have paid absolutely full normal taxes wherever I’ve lived.”
– Mr Sunak said he will not back down
Mr Sunak insisted he will “fight incredibly hard ’til the last day” of the leadership campaign, telling a Conservative party member in the audience that “the quick answer is no” when questioned whether there is a point at which he would step aside in the race to be leader.
He said he is “fighting for something I really believe in and wants to “try and convince you all that I’m right”.
– Ms Truss continued to face questions on her policy U-turn
The Foreign Secretary was told by an audience member that her abandoned £8.8 billion policy pledge to cut the public sector wage bill had been “quite offensive” and was asked to apologise.
Ms Truss repeated her claim that she had decided to drop the policy proposal because it was being misinterpreted, and stopped short of an apology.
She instead said: “I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed of, of saying publicly that this is not working as I wanted it to work, and therefore I have changed the position on it and I’m not going ahead with it.”
– Ms Truss said she would not travel to Taiwan as PM
Ms Truss has said she would not visit Taiwan if she becomes prime minister.
When asked about it by Sky News presenter Kay Burley, the Foreign Secretary said: “No. We have a long-standing position that the Foreign Secretary, the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister don’t visit Taiwan.”
The Foreign Secretary was also asked if the UK should start arming Taiwan amid tensions with China.
She told the Sky News debate: “What we do need to make sure is that democracies like Taiwan are defended. And yesterday I put out a statement with my fellow G7 foreign ministers about the very difficult situation in Taiwan and concern about the rhetoric that we are hearing from China, the escalatory rhetoric.
“Of course, we have a very, very secure control system for exports in the United Kingdom. And we do licence exports to Taiwan up at the moment, exports that are provided by the private sector.”
– Mr Sunak dismissed Ben Wallace’s comments on Boris Johnson having to overrule him over defence money
Last week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace accused Mr Sunak of trying to block money for defence spending in 2019, only to find himself overruled by the Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak said “that’s not right” when asked about it.
He added: “I’m not going to talk ill of any of my colleagues. But ultimately, I’m the chancellor that is responsible for the decisions on how we spend our money. And that’s what I did.”
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