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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# truss bus is rolling
Liz Truss gets another boost as she cements status as favourite in Tory leadership contest
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace threw his support behind Truss.

LIZ TRUSS’S CAMPAIGN for No 10 was 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 Truss, as he criticised Sunak for “walking out the door” of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

It came after the candidates were quizzed separately on a vast array of policy areas – as well as their predictions for the Women’s Euro 2022 final – as they sought to woo northern voters in the race for the top job.

The event, hosted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, was the first of 12 sessions for the party faithful across the country to question the final two contenders, before voting for the next Tory leader and prime minister closes on 2 September.

Truss has come out ahead in opinion polls of the Tory members that will choose the leader. Sunak, however, has a significant edge over his rival among swing voters

While they did not address one another directly, tax continued to be a significant dividing line between the pair.

Sunak took a veiled swipe at Truss by saying he would not “embark on a spree, borrowing tens and tens of billions of pounds of unfunded promises and put them on the country’s credit card”.

Meanwhile, Truss criticised windfall taxes – something Sunak imposed as a one-off on energy companies as chancellor.

She said: “I don’t believe in windfall taxes, because they put off future investment.

What we should be doing is encouraging Shell and other companies to invest in the United Kingdom, because we need to get our productivity up, we need capital investment.

But she avoided being pinned down on potential changes to inheritance tax.

“I think our tax system in Britain isn’t working. It’s too complicated. It’s even more complicated than the American tax system which we know is a nightmare,” she said.

“So what I would do is have a complete review of the tax system. I want to make it fairer for families, so if people take time out of work to look after children or elderly relatives they are not penalised. And I would also look at inheritance tax as part of that review.”

Sunak said he was “having the time of my life” campaigning for the top job.

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He outlined his vision to tackle NHS waiting lists, “grip” inflation, and “restore trust, rebuild the economy, reunite our country”.

The former chancellor acknowledged he was trailing Truss in the polls, but vowed to fight for every vote.

He said: “We are going to have to appeal to swing voters in every part of our country. And I believe with all my heart that I am the person, I am the candidate, that gives our party the best opportunity to secure that victory.”

Recent YouGov polling has suggested Sunak has a significant edge over his rival among swing voters – 2019 Tory voters who are deserting the party, even as both candidates are “considerably unpopular” with the public as a whole.

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