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The contenders for the British Prime Minister quarrel over tax cuts in a televised debate

The contenders for the British Prime Minister quarrel over tax cuts in a televised debate
  • Five challenges to succeed Boris Johnson as British Prime Minister
  • The second of three televised debates on Sunday
  • Tax plans at the heart of the hot contest
  • Polls show a conflicting picture of who is the winner

LONDON (Reuters) – The five Conservative party contenders still vying for Britain’s next prime minister battled over tax cuts in a second televised debate on Sunday, as the two front-runners – Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss – stepped up their battle over the economy. .

With no clear candidate to succeed Boris Johnson stepping down after a series of scandals, the battle to become the next leader remains increasingly unpredictable and distracted, exposing divisions within the ruling Conservative Party.

Former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has emerged as the favorite among the 358 Conservative MPs, who will cast more votes this week to reduce the number of contenders to the bottom two.

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On Sunday evening, he said his first priority would be to tackle inflation and not make it worse before he introduces tax cuts.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has proposed plans to scrap payroll and corporate tax increases at a cost of more than 30 billion pounds ($36 billion) a year, said Sunak raised taxes to a 70-year high.

“Raising taxes at this moment will stifle economic growth,” she said in the debate, hosted by ITV television.

Sunak responded by saying he “likes to cut taxes” but that it would be at the cost of higher inflation. “The economics of this thing for nothing is not conservative, it is socialism,” he said.

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Junior minister Penny Mordaunt, who is currently number three, also targeted Sunak, saying the public needed “immediate action” to counter the rising cost of living.

The race is still open

A poll of JL partners for the Sunday Telegraph suggested that nearly half of Conservative voters think Sunak would make a good prime minister, ahead of Truss and Mordaunt.

However, Truss also enjoys broad support, including from those most loyal to Johnson, and Mordaunt leads polls of the 200,000 party members who will ultimately choose who will become Conservative leader and thus prime minister.

In a display of just how open the race is, a poll of party members for the Conservative Home website on Saturday indicated that former equality minister Kimi Badenouche was now ahead of the others, with Gears in second place and Mordaunt, currently a bookmaker’s favorite, slipping to third.

This came after the fifth candidate, Tom Tugendhat, chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, led the viewers’ vote after the first televised debate on Friday.

Whoever gets the job will deal with skyrocketing inflation and low economic growth, as well as the public’s lack of confidence in politics after Johnson’s scandal-ridden tenure.

Opinion polls also indicate that the Conservatives are far behind the opposition Labor Party.

When the mediator was asked, all the candidates said they would not hold an immediate election if they win. There is no need for a national election in Britain until 2024.

One candidate will be eliminated each day for the next three days, leaving the last two to face the judgment of Conservative Party members. They will vote for the winner, which will be announced on September 5th.

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Paul Sandel) Editing by Daniel Wallis and Gareth Jones

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