Tory leadership race: what did Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak say in final contest hustings at Wembley Arena?
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are on the final stretch of their Tory leadership campaigns with the last hustings in London providing a platform for them to woo Conservative voters
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After more than six gruelling weeks of campaigning, the finish line is finally in sight.
Both candidates have been hard at work attempting to sway Conservative Party members to vote them as the next party leader and the next leader of the country.
The long-fought contest has culminated in the final hustings event at London’s Wembley Arena, hosted by radio station LBC.
Hot topics on the programme included the cost of living, the war in Ukraine and plans on education and crime.
What did Liz Trus say during the final hustings event?
The Foreign Secretary walked out into Wembley Arena to Taylor Swift’s song ‘Changes’, perhaps hoping that party members would take the song choice as a sign of her potential premiership.
Taking to the stage, Ms Truss launched into an attack on Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan.
She told the room: “Sadiq Khan is anti-everything. He is anti-car, he is anti-business, he is anti-opportunity. And he is holding London back.”
She added that her government would focus on making “London Conservative again”.
On the topic of cost of living, Ms Truss said her government would work to cut taxes as well as securing UK’s future energy supply to lower bills. She also pledged to not introduce any new taxes during her time in power.
When pressed by Mr Ferrari on whether she would rule out energy rationing, she assertively told the LBC host that she would rule this out.
However, she conceeded that she would not budge on her plans to not look at the windfall tax on energy firms any further.
The Foreign Minister also took questions from the auidence, with Ms Truss taking a strong stance on identity politics.
When asked by a young Conservative member if freedom in education would be protected, singling out kids being taught that trans women are women, Ms Truss firmly replied that she believed a trans woman was not a woman.
She said: “I believe in treating transgender people with respect, I think that’s important, but we should not confuse that with being clear in our language – some of the nonsense that has emanated, such as chest feeding, which we hear from the National Health Service, we’ve got to be talking in language that is clear and people understand across the country.”
The Foreign Secretary leaned on her experience in the role to talk up her plans to deal with the war in Ukraine. Ms Truss told the audience that she would try to meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky “as soon as possible” is she were to win the contest.
She added that she would focus on the fight against Russia and supporting Ukraine, while also singling out China and its leader Xi Jinping, saying: “I am not going to use the word foe, but what I will say is am concerned about China’s assertiveness.”
What did Rishi Sunak say during the final hustings?
Rishi Sunak arrived on stage at the final hustings as undoubtably the underdog in the race, but his performance seemed to impress voters in the room.
His bigges focus was on the cost of living, in which he said he would tackle rocketing inflation rates.
The former Chancellor joined Ms Truss in refusing to rule out energy rationing, saying: “We shouldn’t rule anything out because the challenges that we face with this crisis are significant.
“That is a sensible thing for us to be doing as a country.”
However, one area he disagree with Ms Truss on was the issue of a windfall tax. Taking a swipe at his contender’s policy on the tax, Mr Sunak said: “I don’t actually know if Liz supports it or doesn’t support it, but I think it is absolutely the right thing at a time when energy companies are making millions of pounds of profits because of a war, that is not right, and we should exceptionally tax those and help with those people’s bills.”
He also reiterated his intention to retintroduce an independent ethis adviser, after Boris Johnson failed to fill the vacant position during the final period of his leadership.
Mr Sunak said: “What I would say is when it comes to these ethical issues we can’t constantly be on the wrong side of them.
“The new leader has to set a clear direction from the top. I will reappoint an independent ethics adviser because I think that would send a strong signal that these things matter.”
When asked about the rising issue of independence in Scotland, Mr Sunak told voters in London that he would focus on creating “an argument that speaks to people’s hearts”, and appeal to unionist-leaning voters in Scotland who don’t vote for the Tory party.