Tory leadership – live: Liz Truss backed by Ben Wallace, as Labour poll lead soars

Rishi Sunak says Margaret Thatcher best Tory leader in history

Liz Truss’s campaign for No 10 has been boosted by a major endorsement after she and rival Rishi Sunak faced a grilling from voters in the first official hustings with Tory members in Leeds.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace threw his support behind Ms Truss, as he criticised Mr Sunak for “walking out the door” of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

Facing a series of tough questions from Tory members during Thursday’s hustings, one of the party faithful confronted the former chancellor over having “stabbed Boris Johnson in the back”, telling him that “some people don’t want to see that in No 10” despite him being “a good salesman”.

Mr Sunak responded by saying that it had become clear that there was “a significant difference of opinion” between the pair on the economic direction of the country.

Meanwhile, the latest exclusive survey by Savanta for The Independent showed Labour soaring to a 13-point lead – coming close to the party’s best performance since Sir Keir Starmer became leader in 2019.

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Time to ‘reclaim our party’, sacked Labour MP Sam Tarry tells striking workers

Sam Tarry, who was sacked from his role as Labour shadow transport minister earlier this week following media appearances at an RMT picket line, has joined a rally for striking BT workers.

Addressing the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rally, Mr Tarry said “it’s good to be back”, adding: “We need a Labour leadership that is prepared to stand up and does not look the other way when BT workers are going to foodbanks.”

He told the crowd: “Let’s be absolutely clear – it is not good enough for the Labour Party to say that we probably won’t be able to give you a pay rise in line with inflation. Because that means the Labour Party is committed to cut people’s wages in real terms and that is totally unacceptable.”

He added: “If I’m sacked for having said that live on TV and not supposed to [have] been on that picket line then people need to have a really hard think about what the Labour Party is for. Because for me the clue is in the name: Labour. On the side of working people.”

He added that “things were changing” and it was “time to fight back” and “reclaim our party”.

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Truss ‘completely horrified’ by Love Island

Liz Truss has said she was “completely horrified” by Love Island and could only bear to watch it for “10 minutes”.

During last night’s hustings event in Leeds, the foreign secretary was asked if she believed the ITV2 show needed “reining in” due to complaints of “misogynistic bullying”, after broadcasting regulator Ofcom said it had received some 3,617 complaints about the show in a single week.

Responding to the question about whether Love Island needs regulating during the Leeds hustings, Ms Truss said: “All I can say is that I watched it for 10 minutes with my teenage daughter and I was completely horrified and I turned it off.”

When asked whether her daughter was “equally horrified”, she responded: “Unfortunately not.”

My colleague Maanya Sachdeva has more details here:

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Wallace hits out at Sunak over cut to tax relief for entrepreneurs

Rishi Sunak cut entrepreneurs’ relief when he was chancellor – from a lifetime limit of £10m to £1m – and that is not a way to create “either wealth or indeed growth”, Ben Wallace has claimed.

The defence secretary and Liz Truss supporter told Sky News: “She is not likely to break the fiscal rule. She’s been very clear about that. And she’s already said there is headroom within that envelope. And I think she has said that within three years, debt will start falling as a percentage of GDP and that is the commitment she will make.

“But if we don’t grow the economy, we simply won’t have the tax receipts, even at the current tax levels, to fund what we need, and I think people seem to think that it’s very simple.

“You just simply raise a tax, pay off the debt and go back. That’s tax and spend economics. The economics I’m interested in is how do we stimulate growth. So cutting the right taxes, like not proceed with corporation tax rises, helps us grow.

“When Rishi was chancellor, he cut entrepreneurs’ relief. He cut the relief that we give to our entrepreneurs who have invested in this country, invested in businesses. And that’s not a way to create either wealth or indeed growth.”

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Labour soars to 13-point lead in polls as Tories scrap over Boris Johnson’s successor

Labour have soared to a 13-point lead in the polls as Conservatives scrap over their future leadership, according to the latest exclusive survey by Savanta for The Independent.

The advantage recorded by Labour in the poll comes close to its best performance since Sir Keir Starmer became leader in 2019, and would put him on course for a comfortable overall majority in the House of Commons if repeated at the next general election.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full report here:

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Truss ‘recognises threats we face every day’, Wallace suggests

Ben Wallace has said he supports Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race because she recognises that the “threats we face every day” need to be “funded properly”.

Explaining why he had decided to back Ms Truss, the defence secretary told Sky News: “I thought what I would do at the beginning of this contest is stand back.

“I am the secretary of state for defence, I want to find a candidate that’s going to do right by the department and recognise that the threats we face every day are very real and are growing and that they need to be funded properly. We can’t just sort of pretend they will go away by themselves.

“So you know, I looked at their performances. I looked at them on the hustings, but I also know them both. I’ve been in Cabinet for two years with both the Chancellor and indeed Liz Truss. And so, you know, it was important for me to work out who was the right person to take us forward.

So, you know, I know Liz, she’s very straight. She’s authentic, what you see is what you get, but also she has been very consistent in her support for defence and security. She reads the same intelligence reports I do. I felt it was the right person to back.”

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Wallace says slew of ministerial resignations was not ‘the right course of action’

Ben Wallace is continuing to criticise Rishi Sunak this morning, after throwing his weight behind Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson yesterday.

Triggering Cabinet ministers walking out at a time of a crisis was not “the right course of action”, the defence secretary told Sky News, adding: “There was going to be a 1922 [Committee] vote predicted on the Monday the next week, a couple of days after Rishi resigned, and they could have done it that way. They could have voted the prime minister through confidence in the party.”

He added: “I just don’t think triggering Cabinet ministers walking out at a time of a crisis is the right course of action … If Rishi Sunak didn’t want the prime minister to be prime minister, there are other mechanisms to do that. And that goes for all the other ministers.”

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Watch: Sunak told he stabbed PM in the back

This is the moment in which a Tory Party member accused former chancellor Rishi Sunak of stabbing Boris Johnson in the back with his resignation.

Tory member accuses Rishi Sunak of ‘stabbing Boris Johnson in the back’
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Truss praised for ‘astonishing’ transformation

In response to yesterday’s hustings, journalists have reacted with praise for Liz Truss’s performance – with the foreign secretary appearing far more relaxed than early in the leadership contest, when she was deemed by viewers to have performed the worst in the first debate.

Rob Burley of LBC described the foreign secretary as being “increasingly good at this” in a hint that “she won’t be any sort of pushover for Labour” in a future general election, while ITV’s political editor Robert Peston said she had “found her voice” in an “astonishing” transformation.

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Ben Wallace hits out at Rishi Sunak for resigning as chancellor

Here is more from Ben Wallace’s interview with The Sun in which he threw his backing behind Liz Truss – and stuck the boot into Rishi Sunak.

The newspaper followed Nadine Dorries in describing Boris Johnson as having been brought down by a “coup” by the former chancellor – in remarks branded “plain stupid” yesterday – and quoted the defence secretary as saying: “What would have happened that day if the markets had crashed [when he resigned]?”

He added: “I don’t have the luxury as defence secretary of just walking out the door — I have roles in keeping this country safe. And the guardian of the markets, you know, the guardian of our economy, is the chancellor.”

Calling Ms Truss “authentic”, “honest” and “experienced”, Mr Wallace – who polling suggested would have been a frontrunner had he run for the leadership himself – said: “I get that she is not the slickest salesperson on the planet, right?

“She’s not running a highly polished Hollywood production leadership campaign, but that’s reflective of who she is. She knows how to govern. And her experience goes from running the finances of this country all the way through to Britain on the foreign stage.”

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Conservative Party members impressed at leadership hustings

Conservative Party members leaving the first Tory leadership hustings in Leeds said they were relieved both candidates came across as potential prime ministers.

But some of the biggest rounds of applause inside the Centenary Pavillion at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground were reserved for questions suggesting current PM Boris Johnson should be on the ballot.

Here’s what the Tory members said after attending the first of 12 official hustings:


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.