Liz Truss vs Rishi Sunak: policies of Prime Minister candidates compared - where they stand on key issues

Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will be the UK’s next Prime Minister. Here are some of their key policies.

The UK’s next Prime Minister will be announced in the next few days, as the bitterly contested race to replace Boris Johnson finally draws to a close.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been fighting to win the support of Tory party members over the past month and a half, both hoping to emerge victorious from the crucial run-off vote.

The campaign battle has been dominated by the cost of living debate, where the two candidates’ have clashed over plans to deal with the spiralling crisis.

Either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss will be announced as the UK’s next Prime Minister on 5 September. Credit: Mark Hall / NationalWorld

However, the Foreign Secretary and former chancellor have also outlined their policies on other topics - from immigration to the NHS - which will of course be integral to their premierships depending on who ends up in Number 10.

Here’s what you need to know:

Cost of living crisis

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have frequently clashed over plans to deal with the rising cost of living and skyrocketing energy bills, with the former stressing her preference for immediate tax cuts and the latter pledging increased financial aid for vulnerable households.

Liz Truss

The Foreign Secretary has warned against “taking money off people in taxes and giving it back in benefits,” arguing that an increase in taxes would prevent economic growth and send the country to “penury”.

If she becomes Prime Minister, her plans instead include reversing the national insurance hike and the planned increase to corporation tax, both of which were introduced by Mr Sunak when he was Chancellor.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have frequently clashed over the cost of living crisis. Credit: Getty Images

The South West Norfolk MP has claimed that her tax cuts, which will cost £30 billion, are “affordable within our current budget” - but that her opponent’s plans to raise taxes will “likely lead to a recession”.

Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak however has criticised many of Ms Truss’ cost of living plans, saying it is “simply wrong to rule out further direct support” and even alleging that his opponent’s ideas put vulnerable people at risk of “real destitution”.

On his own plans, the former chancellor has promised to give households more financial aid - but has never been more specific than saying he will increase support payments by “a few hundred pounds”.

The Richmond MP has also pledged to scrap VAT on all domestic energy bills for the next year if he becomes Prime Minister, in a move which would reportedly save the average household £160.

He said in a statement: “This winter is going to be extremely tough for families up and down the country, and there is no doubt in my mind that more support will be needed.”

Environment

At COP26, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a keynote speech setting out the UK’s plans to achieve its 2050 net zero target. Credit: Getty Images

Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak has said that net zero targets need to be met through green energy, but has stressed that politicians must make sure they “bring people with them” in the process.

He hopes to extend schemes to decarbonise social housing through measures such as insulation, heat pumps and double glazing.

The Richmond MP also plans to introduce a legal target to make the UK energy self-sufficient by 2045, which he told the Conservative Environment Network he would achieve through “more offshore wind, more rooftop solar, and more nuclear energy.”

He will go ahead with a ban on onshore wind farms.

Liz Truss said at COP26 she hopes to accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero. Credit: Getty Images

Liz Truss

Similarly, Ms Truss told the Conservative Environment Network that she will “put the interests of people at the heart of the net zero agenda”, such as by creating green jobs and protecting farmers’ rights.

At the COP26 climate summit in 2021, she spoke of “accelerating our transition to net zero”. However, during the leadership race she has set out her intention to suspend the “green levy” - the part of energy bills that pays for green projects - in order to ease the impacts of the cost of living crisis.

The South West Norfolk MP also wants to better protect wildlife and biodiversity, and plans to launch a new survey to understand which species are endangered.

Finally, like her opponent, Ms Truss believes the UK needs to harness more nuclear energy.

Health and social care

Liz Truss

The current Foreign Secretary has announced plans to divert a greater share of healthcare spending towards helping with social care - which will take away funds from the NHS.

To account for this, she has pledged to make GP services more accessible and more available in order to reduce pressure on hospital services.

She also told voters she wants there to be more mental health support in schools.

Ms Truss wants to encourage doctors who came out of retirement during the coronavirus pandemic to “come back into the profession”.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have been participating in televised debates and nationwide hustings events over the course of the leadership race. Credit: Getty Images

Mr Sunak has promised to accelerate NHS targets to cut waiting lists and clear the “massive backlog”, with the aim of eliminating one-year wait times by September 2024.

He also wants to offer more diagnostic services, such as MRI and CT scans, by setting them up in repurposed empty High Street shops.

Meanwhile, the former chancellor wants to accelerate the approval process for clinical trials by creating a special service for UK trials.

He has announced his intention to fine patients £10 for missed GP or hospital appointments.

Immigration

Both candidates have announced their support for the government’s controversial Rwanda deportation policy.

Mr Sunak has said he will do “everything it takes” to make it work, while Ms Truss has spoken of introducing similar schemes with other countries.

Liz Truss

The Foreign Secretary wants to increase Border Force capacity by 20%, and strengthen the UK Bill of Rights to be tougher on illegal immigration.

She also wrote on Twitter that she wants to ensure the European Convention on HUman Rights (ECHR) works for Britain.

Rishi Sunak

On his campaign website ready4rishi.com, the former chancellor set out a ten-point plan to “take back control of our borders”.

This included “tightening our definition of who qualifies for asylum,” creating a new “cross-government Small Boats Taskforce”, introducing a cap on refugee numbers, increasing cooperation with France, and setting a target that 80% of asylum claims are resolved within six months of being lodged - with more case workers, simplified guidance and better use of technology.

Liz Truss wants students to apply for university after receiving their A-level results. Credit: Getty Images

Education

Liz Truss

When launching her leadership campaign, Ms Truss pledged to give every child “the best opportunity to succeed” - wherever they are from and whatever their background may be.

She wants to expand high-performing academy schools, but replace failing establishments with free schools.

The Foreign Secretary wants to reform university admission procedures so that students apply after receiving their A Level results rather than applying based on their predicted grades.

The Oxford graduate said she wanted every student who gets top A Level grades to get an interview at Cambridge or Oxford.

She also told LBC she wants all schools to provide single sex toilets.

Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak will also open new free schools, and will also support the return of grammar schools.

He hopes to create a new British baccalaureate so that pupils continue studying core subjects such as Maths and English until the age of 18. He also wants Ofsted inspectors to grade schools on their sports lessons.

In regard to higher education, the Richmond MP has promised to phase out university degrees that do not improve “earning potential” and wants to boost vocational training in technical colleges.

Rishi Sunak was greeted by supporters upon his arrival at the Conservative Party hustings event in Birmingham. Credit: Getty Images

Crime

Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak wants to extend mental health support for sexual assault victims and ensure same-sex spaces exist for all survivors of sexual violence.

The former chancellor supports the calls for ‘downblousing’ - taking pictures down women’s tops without consent - to be made a criminal offence.

He also wants to crack down on grooming gangs.

Mr Sunak has spoken of extending the definition of extremism to include those who “vilify our country” and also wants harsher punishments for graffiti and littering.

The leadership candidates have outlined some of their ideas for the UK’s police forces. Credit: Getty Images

Liz Truss

Ms Truss wants police officers to receive mandatory training on helping domestic abuse victims and hasten the implications of a domestic abuse register.

Ms Truss plans to compare police forces’ performances by introducing league tables.

She has said that “it is time for the police to get back to basics and spend their time investigating real crimes, not hurt feelings and rows on Twitter.”

Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine for the country’s Independence Day on 24 August. Credit: Getty Images

Defence 

Both candidates have highlighted their role in the UK’s response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, where the UK became one of the fastest-acting and most generous countries in terms of military aid.

Liz Truss

Ms Truss said as prime minister she would want defence spending to be 3% of GDP by the end of the decade - above the current Nato target of 2%.

Her target would involve spending tens of billions of pounds more on bolstering the UK’s defensive capabilities, which she said was justified given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rishi Sunak

Mr Sunak has vowed to prioritise funding for the armed services and has also committed to maintain defence spending levels