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Tory rivals fuel heated debate in Britain

#Tory #rivals #fuel #heated #debate #Britain

Barbs flew and sneers rang out as Conservatives fighting to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson clashed in a live TV debate on Sunday, heading into a pivotal week for the bitter race.

Rising global temperatures were among the policy areas of contention after Britain’s climate secretary, COP26 President Alok Sharma, threatened to resign if the winner backs away from the government’s “net-zero” target.

With the UK facing a record-breaking heatwave this week and dire warnings of the loss of life, only frontrunner Rishi Sunak pledged to keep green taxes to fund the statutory target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 achieve emissions.

Former Finance Minister Sunak has been repeatedly attacked by the four other contenders in the ITV debate, the second of three, before the two finalists are put before ordinary Tory members who will decide their new leader by September 5.

But he fired back with some of the most hurtful lines of the debate, attacking Secretary of State Liz Truss for her promises of borrowing to fund tax cuts and ease a cost-of-living crisis.

“This meaningless economics is not conservatism, it is socialism,” he said.

– Sunak blamed for inflation –

Sunak also attacked Truss for her political about-faces over the years, from Liberal Democrat to Tory and from campaigning for UK membership of the European Union in 2016 to today’s enthusiastic support for Brexit.

“I was just wondering which one do you regret the most?” he asked.

An hour before the debate, Sunak released a new campaign video, shot in classic black-and-white style to remind the Tories of how early on he had cracked down on the party leadership to support Brexit – in stark contrast to truss formed.

But the wealthy Sunak has faced tough questions about his tax affairs, his past holding of a green card for US residency and his wife’s past status as a “non-resident” UK resident protected from UK taxes.

Truss sought to blame rising British inflation on Sunak, insisting on her own personal integrity. “I say what I mean and I mean what I say,” she said.

The race for leadership was sparked after Johnson was forced to announce his resignation amid a cabinet revolt largely sparked by Sunak after months of scandal.

The debate came after a poll of Tory members showed a surprise double-digit lead over outsider Kemi Badenoch.

According to website ConservativeHome’s unscientific poll, Truss finished second, just ahead of former base favorites Penny Mordaunt and Sunak.

– ‘nonsense’ –

Badenoch and Mordaunt clashed at the ITV debate over transgender rights.

Mordaunt, who briefly served as Britain’s first woman defense secretary before being sacked by Johnson, has fought back claims she lied about her position on transgender women’s rights – a hot topic for the Tory right.

Mordaunt said the attacks were “unedifying,” adding: “Any attempts to portray me as an out-of-contact person will fail.”

Badenoch, a former junior minister with no cabinet experience, is running on a right-wing “anti-woke” platform and said the net-zero target amounted to “unilateral economic disarmament” by Britain.

Mordaunt claimed that polls showed she was the only candidate to beat opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer in a general election – which in fact not every poll confirms.

The other candidates hooted scornfully. Sunak said “that’s just not true” and backbench Tom Tugendhat called out “nonsense”.

On Monday, Conservative MPs will hold another round of voting to eliminate the last-place candidate – likely Tugendhat – before coming to the last two by Wednesday.

Then the last two standing will perform at a series of hustings to grassroots members across the country, explaining why they are best placed to face challenges like the economic crisis and the war in Ukraine.

They must also heal Tory wounds inflicted by the many controversies of Johnson’s premiership.

All five candidates were asked to raise their hands if they agreed to have Johnson in their cabinet. None did.

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