Rishi Sunak had a heated exchange with Tory leadership rivals Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt as the contenders to succeed Boris Johnson faced off in a second televised debate last night.
The former chancellor accused Ms Truss of peddling “something for nothing” economy after she said he was stalling growth by raising taxes to the highest level in 70 years.
And after Ms Mordaunt said she would not be sticking to his rule of only borrowing to invest, he said even former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn did not advocate such fiscal easing.
After being criticized for a poor performance in the first debate, Ms Truss immediately went on the offensive in the second encounter, staged by ITV, by attacking Mr Sunak’s file at the Treasury.
“Rishi, you have raised taxes to the highest level in 70 years. That will not boost economic growth,” she said.
Mr Sunak said the pandemic had damaged the economy and public finances needed to be rebuilt.
“I’d love to stand here and say, ‘Listen, I’ll lower this tax, that tax and one more tax, and everything will be fine.’ But, you know what? It won’t,” he said.
“These things come at a price and the cost of higher inflation, higher mortgage rates and eroded savings. And you know what? This good-for-nothing economy is not conservative. It’s socialism.”
Ms Mordaunt said the limited tax cuts she advocates are not inflationary and people now need help with the cost of living.
“I don’t understand why Rishi doesn’t understand that,” she said.
Mr Sunak said: “It is one thing to borrow for long-term investment. Putting the day-to-day bills on the country’s credit card is a whole other matter. It’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. Even Jeremy Corbyn didn’t go that far.”
Mr Sunak added: “If we’re not for solid money, what’s the point of the Conservative Party?”
There was another ill-tempered exchange between Ms Mordaunt and Kemi Badenoch – who Ms Mordaunt had accused in the first debate of pushing a policy of gender self-identification for people who wanted to legally change their gender when she had government responsibility for the issue .
Following further press reports casting doubt on her denials, Ms Mordaunt said: “I know why this is being done, but I would say that any attempts to portray me as an out-of-contact person will fail.”
Ms Badenoch repeatedly tried to interrupt, saying: “Penny, I was only telling the truth. I’m telling the truth.”
Ms Truss also denied she had campaigned negatively following attacks on Mr Sunak by some of her supporters, who accused him of ousting Boris Johnson.
“I certainly don’t believe in that kind of campaign. It’s not the kind of campaign I’m fighting. I’m fighting for a positive campaign about the future,” she said.
The debate took place ahead of Monday’s third ballot of MPs, which was set to eliminate another candidate, leaving just four.
Tom Tugendhat, who finished fifth in the second round, tried to make a virtue of being the only one of the remaining candidates not to have served in government.
He said those who had been ministers under Boris Johnson had “added credibility to the chaos”, making it difficult for the Conservative Party to win the next UK general election.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/barbs-on-tax-policies-exchanged-in-tory-leadership-debate-as-penny-mordaunt-vows-cuts-41847178.html Tory leadership debate swaps barbs on tax policy as Penny Mordaunt promises cuts