Liz Truss strengthened her lead over Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak following last night’s TV debate, a bookmaker says.
The foreign secretary and former chancellor traded blows on the cost of living crisis, taxation and the economy in a lively contest on BBC One.
Both candidates defied warnings by Tory Party grandees to keep the debate clean as they engaged in personal attacks during the hour-long discussion.
Ms Truss accused her rival of “project fear” after he warned that her tax-cutting plans would lead to rising interest rates, while Mr Sunak reminded the former international trade secretary of her support for Remain in the Brexit referendum.
William Hill said that punters were apparently “initially impressed” by Mr Sunak’s performance but Ms Truss later regained the initiative.
“Liz Truss had drifted to 1/2 but it’s been one-way traffic since and she’s back into 3/10 with our customers feeling she is the more viable candidate at this stage,” Tony Kenny, William Hill spokesperson, said.
Neither candidate was able to land a major blow on the other, which benefitted Ms Truss – the favourite among Tory Party members, who will choose the eventual winner.
This was reflected in a snap poll by Opinium following the debate which showed the candidates neck and neck on the question of who performed best (Sunak 39 per cent vs Truss 38).
The rivals will clash on TV for a second time in 24 hours when they go head-to-head in a Sun/TalkTV event at 6pm tonight.
Both sides will be hoping to have learned tactical lessons from last night. Mr Sunak was accused of “mansplaining” after he repeatedly interrupted his rival, while Ms Truss struggled slightly on how she would fund tax cuts that some economists say could cost £40bn and further stoke soaring inflation.