A summer of Tory leadership campaigning continued last night as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss arrived in Darlington.
The candidates appeared at a hustings event in the north-east town to asnwer questions from Cosverative Party members who will be soon lending their votes to choose the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Hustings host Tom Newton Dunn also grilled the pair on several topics such as the cost of living, immigration and levelling-up.
Here’s everything you need to know about what was said at the Darlington hustings.
What did Rishi Sunak at the Darlington hustings?
Rishi Sunak told the audience that he would “get a grip” on illegal channel crossings if elected as Prime Minister.
He said: “I’ve set out a bold and radical plan to finally get to grips with illegal migration. Because for too long, all of us have been watching on our TV screens scenes that are simply unacceptable of people coming here illegally.
“Now with my plan, under my leadership, we will finally get a grip of that situation, stop the boats, restore trust, and take back control of our borders.”
Additionally, he told voters that he planned to rebuild the economy by tackling inflation.
He told voters that cash payments to all household to tackle the cost of living would not be offered again, instead only those most vulnerable would be given support.
Mr Sunak said: I don’t think that will be necessary because what we are talking about now… is the extra increase on top of what we thought.
“And we already thought bills were going to go up to £3,000 when we announced that support.”
He added: “I want to go further than I did previously because the situation is worse. It’s right that we target that on the people who most need our help.”
Mr Sunak also told the audicene that he had plans for levelling-up areas such as Darlington and the north-east, saying: “I put the Treasury in Darlington because I wanted to send a loud message to Whitehall that there is more to the North than Manchester. And I tell you this… if this works out, it won’t just be called the Treasury Campus in Darlington, it will be the Downing Street Campus in Darlington.”
What did Liz Truss say at the Darlington hustings?
Like Mr Sunak, Ms Truss promised to be tough on immigration and asylum seekers.
She told Darlington voters that she supported Home Secretary Priti Patel’s controversial Rwanda policy, and urged the government to go further.
Ms Truss said: “I worked with Priti Patel on the Rwanda scheme.
“It is the right scheme but we need to expand it to more countries and we also need to legislate to make sure the British Bill of Rights cannot be overruled by the ECHR and we are able to control our own borders.”
The Foreign Secretary also placed focus on the importance of the Conservative Party retaining control of ‘red wall’ seats in the next General Election.
She said: “As Blair himself would say, things can only get better. If you select me to be your prime minister, I will work to take new seats in the North East – Wansbeck, I will work to take Sunderland, and I will work to win big. And I know we can do it.”
Ms Truss appeared to make a sly dig at Mr Sunak’s inflation-busting plans, branding the £400 cash cost of living handouts “Gordon Brown economics”.
She added that lower taxation would allow people to keep more of their wages as the cost of living increases, saying: “We are facing great difficulties with energy. I understand people are struggling with their bills on fuel and food but the first thing we should do as Conservatives is help people have more of their own money.
“What I don’t support is taking money off people in tax and then giving it back to them in handouts. That to me is Gordon Brown economics.
“Frankly we had years of that under Labour and what we got was a slow-growth economy and we didn’t get the opportunities, we didn’t get the enterprise, we didn’t get the new jobs in places like Darlington, which is one of the reasons people voted Conservative.
“They voted Conservative because they want to see enterprise, they want to see new opportunities, and that is why it is so important that we don’t raise taxes, that we keep taxes low and also we abolish these EU rules that are holding back investment into our country.”
Ms Truss also blamed “the media” for Boris Johnson’s downfall, which got the Cnservative crowd onside. As Newton Dunn wrapped up the evening, Ms Truss’s mic was still live as she told the hustings host she was “sorry” about the jibes, to which he replied that the swipe was “cheap”.