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
Nadine Dorries made headlines after tweeting about Liz Truss’s thriftiness compared to Rishi Sunak wearing a multi-thousand pound suit.
The two candidates tried to talk down the comments made by the Culture Secretary in which she compared Ms Truss’s £4.50 Claire’s Acssessories earrings to Mr Sunak’s £3,500 designer suit.
BBC Politics Editor Chris Mason pushed the pair for an answer to the question of whether Ms Dorries comments were relevant.
Mr Sunak played down claims that it was representitive of low blows and personal attacks during the contest race, adding that he had the utmost repsect for his fellow candidates throughout the entire process.
Ms Truss echoed his commented when asked if Ms Dorries, who has been supporting her campaign, was right to comment on issues such as fashion to comapre the two.
The debate kicked off with one of the hottest topics on everyone’s mind - the current cost of living crisis.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak laid out plans for “long term solutions”, adding that the UK needed more “home grown energy”.
However, Liz Truss pledged to make plans to target the cost of living immediately, including scrapping the rise in National Insurance which was introduced in April.
She said that she would place a “temporary moratorium” on the green energy levy and “take advantage of Brexit opportunities”.
Mr Sunak took issue with Ms Truss’s plans to start paying back Covid debts in the next three years, adding that her plans to cut tax would lead to a further increase in inflation.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have kicked off their first televised debate amid the run-off contest campaign.
The pair will go head-to-head on topics such as the cost of living as Conservative Party members make their decision.
Mr Sunak and Ms Truss both started the debate by paying tribute to former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, who was announced to have died shortly before the debate kicked off.
Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak has agreed to be interviewed by veteran political journalist Andrew Neil, while his rival Liz Truss has so far declined, Channel 4 has said.
The former chancellor will be grilled live at 7.30pm on Friday on the network, where Neil hosts a weekly politics programme having left the BBC and GB News.
In a swipe at his opponent, Mr Sunak tweeted:
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz tweeted:
The first of the 12 official public hustings organised by the Tory party in the leadership contest has been set for 28 July in Leeds, before Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak tour the UK for questioning.
A hustings for the Conservative Councillors’ Association, organised separately and believed to be taking place behind closed doors, is expected to take place on Thursday.
Conservative members are expected to receive postal ballots by 5 August, with the ballot shutting at 5pm on 2 September ahead of the final announcement.
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have signed up to a Sky News debate after an earlier televised appearance was cancelled in the wake of fiery clashes between the candidates.
The broadcaster secured an hour-long head to head between the final two vying for the Tory leadership to take place on 4 August, and to be hosted by broadcaster Kay Burley.
The pair had earlier declined to take part in a debate Sky scheduled for the wider candidates, forcing the broadcaster to cancel its plans with a day’s notice.
On Wednesday, Mr Sunak tweeted: “Looking forward to it!”
Liz Truss has become the bookies favourite to become the next Prime Minister.
Penny Mordaunt was knocked out of the contest following the final plarimentary vote, leaving Ms Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak left to face the run-off vote.
According to Paddy Power, Ms Truss is favourite to win at 8/15.
Mr Sunak’s odds currently sit at 5/4.
A spokesperson from Paddy Power said: “The Penny has finally dropped for Tory MPs with Mordaunt dropping out of the leadership race this afternoon.
“It seems Liz will earn the Truss of the Tory members and win the keys to Downing Street and it looks like we won’t be seeing Rishi in Number 10 anytime Soon-ak!”
Penny Mordaunt has been eliminated from the leadership contest during the last ballot amongst parliamentary MPs.
Ms Mordaunt’s departure from the contest means that Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will face off in the final run-off vote.
The vote will take place among Conservative Party members across the UK, with the result expected to be announced on 5 September.
Third round ballot results
Rishi Sunak - 137 (+19)
Liz Truss - 113 (+27)
Eliminated: Penny Mordaunt - 105 (+13)
Boris Johnson departed the Commons saying “Hasta la vista, baby”, apparently quoting actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase from the film Terminator.
Finishing his speech at the despatch box, the Prime Minister said: “Mission largely accomplished for now.”
“I want to thank you Mr Speaker, I want to thank all the wonderful staff of the House of Commons, I want to thank all my friends and colleagues, I want to thank my right honourable friend opposite. I want to thank everybody here and hasta la vista, baby, thank you.”
His speech prompted sustained clapping, cheers and a standing ovation from many MPs as he departed the Commons chamber.
Boris Johnson did not directly address when asked by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey whether there should be a general election once a new Tory leader is chosen, but the Prime Minister warned of a “crackpot coalition” in his reply.
Sir Ed said: “The candidates now plotting to take his place all profess that they would spring a fresh start, a clean break from his Government.
“But does the Prime Minister not agree with me that a fresh start and a clean break would require a new mandate from the British people? And before they strut and fret their hour upon the stage there should be a general election?”
The Prime Minister said, quoting Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Polonius, that’s who he is… what you need – more matter with less art.”
“The only thing you need to know, if there were to be a general election of course the Liberal Democrats would rightly get thrashed. That is the moment when the public actually look with horror on what Liberal Democrat policies really are.
“And all these rural voters would discover the massive green taxes that they would like to apply, and the only risk is that there could be some kind of crackpot coalition between those guys (Labour) and the Lib Dems and the Scottish nationalists to put that into effect. That is what we must prevent.”