Politics

5 questions still facing Rishi and Liz as they battle to be Britain’s next PM

WITH less than a month until the next PM is announced, these are the major questions still facing Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

The Tory leadership race is heating up as Mr Sunak and Ms Truss approach the home stretch.

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Liz Truss is currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership raceCredit: Splash
Rishi Sunak is the underdog in the Tory race to be PM

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Rishi Sunak is the underdog in the Tory race to be PMCredit: PA

Throughout the contest both have made dozens of policy promises, ranging from crime and taxes to immigration and sport.

There’s been hiccups and u-turns along the way, though with five hustings down and seven to go, we have a pretty clear picture of what a Truss or Sunak premiership would look like.

But here are some of the big questions that still need answering.

Will Liz Truss give handouts?

Ms Truss caused a stir when she told the Financial Times last weekend that the solution to soaring inflation is slashing taxes, “not giving out handouts”.

Mr Sunak slammed the idea, saying cuts will do nothing to help OAPs or the poorest in society, especially as annual gas bills are predicted to hit over £4,000 in January.

The Truss campaign quickly issued a clarification, claiming “nothing is off the table” when it comes to helping the hardest hit. So, technically, the frontrunner hasn’t ruled out more public spending.

What we don’t know is in what form additional handouts would come, how much they would be or who would receive them.

Will Liz Truss definitely win?

Ms Truss is currently blazing ahead in the polls, with the latest YouGov survey of Tory members putting her 34 points ahead of the ex-Chancellor.

Ladbrokes betting odds for the Foreign Secretary today are 1/12, while Mr Sunak is on 13/2.

But this is Westminster, and things can change in the blink of an eye. There is still three and a half weeks of the Tory leadership race to go and anything can happen in that time.

A major blunder from the Truss campaign could see the frontrunner’s lead tighten. Equally, Mr Sunak could yet pull a rabbit out of a hat and hike his popularity among the grassroots.

All is still to play for, but as things stand Ms Truss is firmly on track to win.

Betting on the Tory leadership election is now a game “fit only for mugs” – or someone “who knows things they probably shouldn’t”, says Matthew Engel, political betting commentator for the Racing Post.

“The policies Liz Truss has so far been spouting, favouring the oil companies and offering minimal help to energy consumers, would never survive a real election campaign,” he explained.

“She is either going to have to do  more screeching u-turns or she will be in deep trouble even before she thinks about tearing down the Johnsons’ Downing Street wallpaper.

“The betting fun will restart when the markets heat up on the prime minister after the next general election – currently alight odds-on Keir Starmer – and who will be Tory leader after Truss or Sunak.”

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Could Rishi Sunak drop out?

Throughout the race Mr Sunak has maintained he won’t drop out – despite trailing in the polls.

Allies of Ms Truss have asked the ex-Chancellor to admit defeat. They say dragging out the competition when she is far ahead will damage Tory unity, especially as campaign attack lines get increasingly vicious.

Some Tories fear weeks of more blue-on-blue warfare is only going to help Labour and damage the Conservative brand.

But every time he is asked, Mr Sunak is clear he will fight till the very end. He thinks there is still time to turn his fortunes around, and is on a mission to win over as many members as possible.

In a BBC interview last night Mr Sunak said: “I knew what I was doing when I got into this and I was going to tell people what I think they needed to hear, not necessarily what they wanted to hear.

“I would rather lose, having fought for the things I passionately believe are right for our country and being true to my values, than win on a false promise.”

Who would be in a Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak Cabinet?

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have kept hush hush in public over who they would put in their cabinet. But certain names have been touted by sources as shoo-ins or likely candidates for particular roles.

Under a Truss government, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is hotly tipped to be Chief Whip.

Meanwhile, Priti Patel is likely to move from Home Secretary to Party Chairman and Mr Sunak could be offered Health.

Brexiteer leadership contender Suella Braverman is the frontrunner to replace her after dropping out of the race and quickly endorsing Liz.

Kwasi Kwarteng is in line to be Truss’s Chancellor, with Simon Clarke the Business Secretary.

Penny Mordaunt is said to be pushing for the Culture department, with insiders saying fourth place leadership candidate Kemi Bandenoch a shoo-in at Education.

Under a Sunak government, key ally Dominic Raab could be handed the keys to No11, so too might current Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

Supporters and former ministers Oliver Dowden, Robert Jenrick and Gavin Williamson are all tipped for roles.

Ms Badenoch and Michael Gove, who have remained neutral, are likely to take up top roles too.

What is Rishi Sunak promising to help with the cost of living squeeze?

Mr Sunak has taken a strikingly different approach to the cost of living crisis and inflation than Ms Truss.

The ex-Chancellor savaged his rival’s plans and warned tax cuts now will only pour petrol on the inflation crisis and shoot up interest rates, saddling home buyers with huge mortgage repayments.

Yet he has vowed to axe VAT on energy bills to save the average home roughly £160, a screeching U-turn from the stubborn resistance he displayed when Chancellor.

He is also promising to cut income tax by 4p within the next seven years, to save the average worker about £777.

But specific additional help to tackle soaring bills in October is yet to be confirmed.

Mr Sunak this week promised to give squeezed Brits a “few hundred pounds more” in winter. But he is waiting for more details before committing to a specific package.



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