With only a week and a half until the next Prime Minister of the UK is announced, the finish line for the Tory leadership contest is in sight.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been fighting for the past two months to prove that Conservative Party members should lend their vote to them, and now they are in their last round of appearances to make the final push.
The candidiates found themselves in Birmingham for the latest round of hustings.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak once again clashed heads on their plans for combating the rising cost of living.
Ms Truss backed her tax-cutting plan, saying: “I give you the example of Britain where we cut corporation tax and we saw revenues increase.
“There is an example of where cutting taxes actually helped us attract more revenue into the Treasury and more growth into the economy.
“This whole language of ‘unfunded’ tax cuts implies the static model, the so-called abacus economics that the Treasury orthodoxy has promoted for years, but it hasn’t worked in our economy because what we have ended up with is high tax, high spending and low growth.
“That is not a sustainable model for Britain’s future.”
Mr Sunak took aim at his opponent’s plans, saying: “I think unfunded tax cuts are wrong and do you know what? Her [Margaret Thatcher] chancellor Nigel Lawson agrees with me, the head of her policy unit agrees with me, Norman Lamont agrees with me.
“All of these people who understood Margaret Thatcher’s economics are supporting my economic plan because it is the right one for our country and it is a Conservative approach to managing the economy.”
Ms Truss also refused to answer whether or not she would introduce a new ethics adviser if she were to be voted into power.
When asked, the Foreign Secretary said: “I would put in place, if I was elected as prime minister, a strong chief whip.
“I would return them to Number 12 Downing Street so they are at the heart of Government and making sure there is zero tolerance of misbehaviour.”
She added: “I do think one of the problems we have got in this country in the way we approach things is we have numerous advisers and independent bodies, and rules and regulations.
“For me it’s about understanding the difference between right and wrong, and I am somebody who has always acted with integrity, I have always been clear about what I will do, I have followed through on my promises and been honest about the situation, and that is what I would do as prime minister.”
Who is favourite to win the contest?
Currently, Ms Truss is favourite to win the Tory leadership contest, with Paddy Power currently giving odds of 1/50 for the Foreign Minister becoming party leader and Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak’s odds currently sit at 10/1.
Latest updates on Tory leadership race
Climate protesters kicked out of Eastbourne hustings
Five protesters have been kicked out of the Tory leadership hustings in Eastborne.
The protesters shouted “shame on you” at candidate Liz Truss, as well as calling for a “Green New Deal”.
Audience members in the crowd chanted “out, out” as the protesters began their demonstration.
Ms Truss, who described the protesters as “infiltrators”, said: “I will make sure that militant activists such as Extinction Rebellion, are not able to disrupt ordinary people who work hard and do the right thing and go into work.
“I will never ever, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unfair protests.”
Rishi Sunak stick to inflation-busting policies as opposed to tax reductions
Grim news came today after it was announced that the country is expected to be launched into a recession by the end of the year, and the next potential Tory leader will no doubt have to have plans in place to curb the affect of this.
Rishi Sunak has campaigned on a policy of beating inflation, but not reducing taxes while this remains high.
He reiterated this once again, saying: “It’s not the tax burden that is causing the recession. That’s simply wrong. What’s causing the recession is inflation. That’s the root of the problems, not just here, but in America and elsewhere.
“So the way we’re gonna get through this first and foremost is gripping inflation.
He added: “What I’m not going to do is embark on a borrowing spree worth tens of billions of pounds, put that on the country’s credit card, ask our kids and our grandkids to pick up the tab because that’s not right. That’s not responsible.”
Liz Truss justifies public pay policy
Liz Truss has come into criticism after appearing to u-turn on a decision to cut pay for public workers such as teachers and nurses outside of London.
The Foreign Minister has taken the stance that the policy was misinterpreated by the media, but she recieved a question from one irrate potential voter who stated that her “misinterpreated” policy was offensive to public workers outside of London and the south east.
Ms Truss said that she took the decision to not proceed with the policy following the reaction, while adding that the policy was not meant to include workers such as teachers, nurses and police officers.
Kay Burley grilled her more, prompting Ms Truss to admit that the policy was a mistake and that she had blamed the media for the backlash rather than owning up to u-turning.
Ms Truss stood strong and stated that the policy was not key to her campaign and was no longer on the cards as a result of the criticism.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak in Sky News debate
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are facing off in the latest debate, as Sky News hosts the two candidates.
The pair will face questions from an audience of Conservative Party members, as well as debate host Kay Burley.
It comes as ballot papers begin to be sent out to around 160,000 party members to choose the next leader and Prime Minister of the UK.
Debate cancelled following incident
TalkTV has apologised to viewers after announcing that tonight’s debate will be cancelled altogether.
Host Kate McCann fainted in the studio as the debate was ongoing, leading to the event being halted.
It has now been announced that the show will be cancelled and will not return to screens.
The broadcaster said in a statement: “Kate McCann fainted on air tonight and although she is fine, the medical advice was that we shouldn’t continue with the debate.
“We apologise to our viewers and listeners.”
Debate on pause due to medical issue
The debate has been put on pause due to a “medical issue”.
A spokesperson for The Sun said: “There was a medical issue, we hope to be back on air soon.”
TalkTV tweeted that there was not a security issues inside the studio, and that Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were not involved in the medical incident.
Debate on hiatus due to issue in the studio
The leadership debate has been disrupted due to an incident within the studio.
Liz Truss was providing an answer to a question when a large crash was heard and the transmission was cut.
Candidates grilled on cost-of-living crisis
Arguably one of the most immediate topics affecting people’s lives is the cost-of-living, and Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were grilled on their plans to curb sprialling prices.
Ms Truss said: “As prime minister I will put money back in people’s pockets from day one, driving growth and delivering opportunities with a new growth plan.
“It’s wrong that we currently have the highest tax burden in this country that we’ve had for 70 years.”
Ms Truss also pledged to support rural communities with levelling-up plans to lower the cost of home-grown food.
Mr Sunak relied on his experience an Chancellor to show voters that he had taken steps already to fix this, adding that “I’ll do more as the situation demands”.
Sunak and Truss take part in debate hosted by The Sun
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are facing off in their second public debate.
Hosted by The Sun and TalkTV, the public have been able to send in their questions directly to the candidates.
It comes after Ms Truss’s campaign team accused Mr Sunak of ‘mansplaining’ and speaking over her during last night’s BBC debate.
Sunak and Truss rate Boris Johnson’s premiership
The debate was rounded off with a quick fire round of questions from host Sophie Raworth.
She asked the two candidates what they would rate Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister out of 10.
Ms Truss quickly gave Mr Johnson a seven.
Mr Sunak initally said that Mr Johnson had done a good job until he tripped up.
He then explained that based on getting Brexit done, he would give the soon-to-be former Prime Minister a 10, receiving a round of applause from the audience.