The Conservative Party leadership race is nearing its end with Liz Truss on track to become the next leader and Prime Minister. Rishi Sunak, however, is still challenging Ms Truss in an attempt to save his campaign. He has claimed that his opponent will put public finances in “serious jeopardy” if she implements her plan to cut taxes. Ms Truss had announced plans for an “emergency budget” to reverse the increased National Insurance duties and reverse a planned rise in corporation tax.
Last week, a Sky News/YouGov poll showed that the race is Ms Truss’ to lose as she currently holds a 32 point lead over Mr Sunak among Tory members.
The survey found that 66 percent of members are voting for Ms Truss and 34 percent are behind Mr Sunak.
This means Mr Sunak has closed the gap — two weeks ago, he was 38 points adrift — but only slightly.
During a Sky News ‘Battle for Number 10’ debate earlier this month, Mr Sunak was deemed the winner by the majority of Tory members in the audience.
Last week’s poll, however, also showed that outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains popular amongst his party’s base.
Of those polled last week, 55 percent said it was wrong that Mr Johnson was forced to resign while 40 percent believed this was the right decision.
If Mr Johnson was in the leadership race, he would comfortably win. A remarkable 46 percent would vote for him, compared to just 24 percent for Ms Truss and 23 percent for Mr Sunak.
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While Mr Sunak has a big deficit to overturn, he received support from influential Tory MP Michael Gove last week.
Mr Gove, who most recently served as Levelling Up Secretary, wrote in The Times about why he is backing the former Chancellor.
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He said: “I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers. I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it.”
Attacking Ms Truss’ campaign, he added: “I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a holiday from reality.
“The answer to the cost of living crisis cannot be simply to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut tax. Proposed reductions to national insurance would favour the wealthy, and changes to corporation tax apply to big businesses not small entrepreneurs.
“I cannot see how safeguarding the stock options of FTSE 100 executives should ever take precedence over supporting the poorest in our society, but at a time of want and hunger it cannot be the right priority.”
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Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has been criticised by his own family, after his sister, Rachel Johnson, interviewed their father, Stanley Johnson, during her LBC show last weekend.
Stanley, who has campaigned on the environment on many occasions, hit-out at his son’s government for not doing more to prevent sewage being released onto beaches and into the sea.
Tory MP Huw Merriman took aim at the Johnsons on Twitter, writing : “When I was a baby, Johnson and Johnson used to powder backsides rather than be paid to talk out of them.
“There is too much nepotism in politics. It must stop. People must believe they can succeed by merit and hard-work.”