Rishi Sunak says Margaret Thatcher best Tory leader in history
Liz Truss’s campaign for No 10 has been boosted by a major endorsement after she and rival Rishi Sunak faced a grilling from voters in the first official hustings with Tory members in Leeds.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace threw his support behind Ms Truss, as he criticised Mr Sunak for “walking out the door” of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.
Facing a series of tough questions from Tory members during Thursday’s hustings, one of the party faithful confronted the former chancellor over having “stabbed Boris Johnson in the back”, telling him that “some people don’t want to see that in No 10” despite him being “a good salesman”.
Mr Sunak responded by saying that it had become clear that there was “a significant difference of opinion” between the pair on the economic direction of the country.
Meanwhile, the latest exclusive survey by Savanta for The Independent showed Labour soaring to a 13-point lead – coming close to the party’s best performance since Sir Keir Starmer became leader in 2019.
Ben Wallace says PM delivered increased defence budgets – rather than Rishi Sunak
It’s been a busy morning for the defence secretary after he endorsed Liz Truss in the leadership campaign. Ben Wallace has now said that it was Boris Johnson – rather than Rishi Sunak – who had secured a multi-year defence settlement.
Put to him that the Treasury has delivered increased defence budgets, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The prime minister did. It was the prime minister’s determination that we got a multi-year settlement, that we got one when we desperately needed one, and we got £24bn extra.
“And that investment I’m keen continues. I don’t want it to be a sort of boom or bust, which has often happened to defence, and that’s why it gets into big trouble.”
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 09:52
Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador to the US, dies aged 78
The former British ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer, has died aged 78.
Sir Christopher served in the post for six years from 1997, and had previously been press secretary to Conservative prime minister John Major between 1994 and 1996.
The news has sparked an outpouring of warmth and tributes to Sir Christopher:
Here was Sir Christopher on Wednesday discussing the G7 summit:
My colleague Tom Batchelor has more details here:
Former British ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer dies aged 78
Current ambassador Karen Pierce pays tribute to ‘great diplomat and great character’
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 09:37
Time to ‘reclaim our party’, sacked Labour MP Sam Tarry tells striking workers
Sam Tarry, who was sacked from his role as Labour shadow transport minister earlier this week following media appearances at an RMT picket line, has joined a rally for striking BT workers.
Addressing the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rally, Mr Tarry said “it’s good to be back”, adding: “We need a Labour leadership that is prepared to stand up and does not look the other way when BT workers are going to foodbanks.”
He told the crowd: “Let’s be absolutely clear – it is not good enough for the Labour Party to say that we probably won’t be able to give you a pay rise in line with inflation. Because that means the Labour Party is committed to cut people’s wages in real terms and that is totally unacceptable.”
He added: “If I’m sacked for having said that live on TV and not supposed to [have] been on that picket line then people need to have a really hard think about what the Labour Party is for. Because for me the clue is in the name: Labour. On the side of working people.”
He added that “things were changing” and it was “time to fight back” and “reclaim our party”.
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 09:12
Truss ‘completely horrified’ by Love Island
Liz Truss has said she was “completely horrified” by Love Island and could only bear to watch it for “10 minutes”.
During last night’s hustings event in Leeds, the foreign secretary was asked if she believed the ITV2 show needed “reining in” due to complaints of “misogynistic bullying”, after broadcasting regulator Ofcom said it had received some 3,617 complaints about the show in a single week.
Responding to the question about whether Love Island needs regulating during the Leeds hustings, Ms Truss said: “All I can say is that I watched it for 10 minutes with my teenage daughter and I was completely horrified and I turned it off.”
When asked whether her daughter was “equally horrified”, she responded: “Unfortunately not.”
My colleague Maanya Sachdeva has more details here:
Liz Truss ‘horrified’ by Love Island
Truss was recently asked if she believed the ITV2 show needed ‘reining in’
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 09:09
Wallace hits out at Sunak over cut to tax relief for entrepreneurs
Rishi Sunak cut entrepreneurs’ relief when he was chancellor – from a lifetime limit of £10m to £1m – and that is not a way to create “either wealth or indeed growth”, Ben Wallace has claimed.
The defence secretary and Liz Truss supporter told Sky News: “She is not likely to break the fiscal rule. She’s been very clear about that. And she’s already said there is headroom within that envelope. And I think she has said that within three years, debt will start falling as a percentage of GDP and that is the commitment she will make.
“But if we don’t grow the economy, we simply won’t have the tax receipts, even at the current tax levels, to fund what we need, and I think people seem to think that it’s very simple.
“You just simply raise a tax, pay off the debt and go back. That’s tax and spend economics. The economics I’m interested in is how do we stimulate growth. So cutting the right taxes, like not proceed with corporation tax rises, helps us grow.
“When Rishi was chancellor, he cut entrepreneurs’ relief. He cut the relief that we give to our entrepreneurs who have invested in this country, invested in businesses. And that’s not a way to create either wealth or indeed growth.”
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 08:41
Labour soars to 13-point lead in polls as Tories scrap over Boris Johnson’s successor
Labour have soared to a 13-point lead in the polls as Conservatives scrap over their future leadership, according to the latest exclusive survey by Savanta for The Independent.
The advantage recorded by Labour in the poll comes close to its best performance since Sir Keir Starmer became leader in 2019, and would put him on course for a comfortable overall majority in the House of Commons if repeated at the next general election.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full report here:
Labour soars to 13-point lead in polls as Tories scrap over Boris Johnson’s successor
Exclusive: Margin enough to deliver Keir Starmer comfortable majority in Commons
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 08:31
Truss ‘recognises threats we face every day’, Wallace suggests
Ben Wallace has said he supports Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race because she recognises that the “threats we face every day” need to be “funded properly”.
Explaining why he had decided to back Ms Truss, the defence secretary told Sky News: “I thought what I would do at the beginning of this contest is stand back.
“I am the secretary of state for defence, I want to find a candidate that’s going to do right by the department and recognise that the threats we face every day are very real and are growing and that they need to be funded properly. We can’t just sort of pretend they will go away by themselves.
“So you know, I looked at their performances. I looked at them on the hustings, but I also know them both. I’ve been in Cabinet for two years with both the Chancellor and indeed Liz Truss. And so, you know, it was important for me to work out who was the right person to take us forward.
So, you know, I know Liz, she’s very straight. She’s authentic, what you see is what you get, but also she has been very consistent in her support for defence and security. She reads the same intelligence reports I do. I felt it was the right person to back.”
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 08:21
Wallace says slew of ministerial resignations was not ‘the right course of action’
Ben Wallace is continuing to criticise Rishi Sunak this morning, after throwing his weight behind Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson yesterday.
Triggering Cabinet ministers walking out at a time of a crisis was not “the right course of action”, the defence secretary told Sky News, adding: “There was going to be a 1922 [Committee] vote predicted on the Monday the next week, a couple of days after Rishi resigned, and they could have done it that way. They could have voted the prime minister through confidence in the party.”
He added: “I just don’t think triggering Cabinet ministers walking out at a time of a crisis is the right course of action … If Rishi Sunak didn’t want the prime minister to be prime minister, there are other mechanisms to do that. And that goes for all the other ministers.”
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 08:08
Watch: Sunak told he stabbed PM in the back
This is the moment in which a Tory Party member accused former chancellor Rishi Sunak of stabbing Boris Johnson in the back with his resignation.
Tory member accuses Rishi Sunak of ‘stabbing Boris Johnson in the back’
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 07:58
Truss praised for ‘astonishing’ transformation
In response to yesterday’s hustings, journalists have reacted with praise for Liz Truss’s performance – with the foreign secretary appearing far more relaxed than early in the leadership contest, when she was deemed by viewers to have performed the worst in the first debate.
Rob Burley of LBC described the foreign secretary as being “increasingly good at this” in a hint that “she won’t be any sort of pushover for Labour” in a future general election, while ITV’s political editor Robert Peston said she had “found her voice” in an “astonishing” transformation.
Andy Gregory29 July 2022 07:52