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Rishi Sunak And Liz Truss Facing Tory Members In Leeds For First Official Leadership Hustings – UK Politics Live

Sunak and Truss prepare for first official Tory hustings in Leeds tonight at 7pmRishi Sunak and Liz Truss are poised to go head to head in the first official hustings with Tory members in Leeds, PA Media reports. PA says:

It is the first of 12 sessions for party faithful across the country to quiz the final two candidates before voting for the next party leader and prime minister closes on 2 September.

The two-hour hustings will be broadcast on LBC radio from 7pm and hosted by presenter Nick Ferrari.

The event takes place in Leeds, where Truss was hoping to shore up voters’ support by backing Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and pledging to “turbocharge investment” into the north of England.

During a visit to the Yorkshire city, Truss insisted she is “completely committed” to the scheme to improve rail connections between Liverpool and Leeds, which was originally announced by Boris Johnson but subsequently scaled back.

She told reporters: “I grew up in Leeds, I know how poor the transport is and, frankly, it’s not got much better since I was a teenager getting the bus into Leeds city centre. What I want to see is really fantastic rail services, better roads so people are able to get into work”.

Asked how she would afford the scheme, given the vast tax cuts she has pledged, Truss said: “The taxes that I am cutting are affordable within our budget. By creating new low-tax investment zones in places like West Yorkshire, by enabling the post-Brexit reforms to take place, unleashing more investment from the city, we will grow the economy faster – that will bring in more tax revenue, and that will enable us to afford those projects”.

She also promised to “fix the Treasury’s funding formula” if she gets the keys to No 10 to make sure the region gets a “fairer share” of resources.

Truss took a thinly veiled swipe at Sunak, who is the MP for the North Yorkshire seat of Richmond, when she was asked whether he was as committed to the rail project, saying: “The thing about me is I’m prepared to take on the Whitehall orthodoxy, I’m prepared to challenge the groupthink that has, over decades, not put enough investment into this part of the country.”

Liz Truss speaking at a campaign event in Leeds today. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/ReutersKey events

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Truss says that shortages of labour are the same across the world, in the US and Canada and not down to Brexit.

“In Europe they are also struggling to get workers on their farms as well. We have the seasonal agricultural workers scheme. I talked about my passion for British food, and I think it’s right we open up for these workers.”

Then a question about child benefits, and the threshold being £50k where if one of the parents get that income, they no longer qualify.

Truss again says she wants to reform the tax system. “We need to make sure it works with things like child benefit, but we need to simplify the system.”

After a question about local authorities, Truss is challenged over her negative comments about the school she attended, which others have called inaccurate. “You make it sound like it’s some bog-standard comprehensive, it’s nothing like it,” the questioner says.

“I’m not claiming it was a sink school, it was an average comprehensive at the time. And at that average comprehensive under the auspices of Leeds city council there were too many kids able to leave school without the education they need, the teaching was patchy, we didn’t have league tables at the time, or a national curriculum, there were kids who fell through the cracks.

“There were low expectations of some of the pupils at the school, and sometimes those low expectations were about where those kids had come from in Leeds. There were different expectations from the kids from the middle class areas, than who had come from the council estate. I thought that was wrong.”

A question about mixed-sex toilets in schools, with an audience member saying that a lot of changes were made in schools during Covid closures, and that girls’ toilets were removed.

Truss replies: “I agree with you, I have sought to clarify that as women’s minister. I have been very clear that single sex spaces should be protected, particularly for young people, as well as vulnerable people, vulnerable women in domestic violence shelters, and I can assure you as prime minister, I would direct that to happen.

“Our girls, it’s a difficult time being a teenager, being a young girl and you should be able to have the privacy you need in your own loo.”

Truss says that she doesn’t believe teenagers should be able to make “irreversible decisions to do with their own bodies that they might later regret”. She adds that schools can provide additional facilities, but not by taking away single-sex toilets.

Truss backs more investment and transport links in the north.

In response to a following question, she says that she was sceptical about HS2, but now it is going ahead there needs to be a focus on value for money.

She adds that it needs to be done quicker, now we are out of the EU, and that different procurement rules have slowed us down.

Then a question about energy supply, and fracking. Truss says she supports it in areas where people want it to happen, and it can be part of the future for energy in the UK, in conjunction with nuclear power.

In response to an opening question about how to support children who suffered through the pandemic, Truss says that support wil be given to early years.

“We need kids who get to school to be able to count, to be able to read, to be able to do all those basic things to be able to benefit from a primary education.”

She adds she will push for education standards over English and maths to be improved.

Truss goes on to say that there should be more mental health support available in schools for children.

She says that she would not have closed schools during Covid. “There was a time where we kept pubs open but closed schools.”

Truss says the attempt to rewrite parliamentary rules to try and support Owen Paterson was a mistake and she wouldn’t do it again, if similar circumstances repeated themelves. She adds that there needs to be more support for MPs.

After questions about Johnson’s support for Ukraine, and a prediction for the women’s Euros final on Sunday that’s it for Ferrari’s questions. On to the audience now.

Truss is asked about company profits, and is asked about windfall taxes. She says she doesn’t support another one as it puts off investment.

She said she would be encouraging Shell and other companies to invest in the UK to improve productivity. She would create low-tax investment zones to encourage more investment.

Truss seems to be addressing the audience as well as Ferrari, more than Sunak was doing earlier.

Ferrari brings up her previous republicanism and asks what happens if the Queen asks about it during their first audience.

“Almost as soon as I made the speech I regretted it. I was a bit of a teenage controversialist.

“Within these four walls, I was briefly a member of the Liberal Democrats, I did leave it when I was 21 when I came of age and realised the error of my ways.”

Truss said that Margaret Thatcher was the best Conservative PM, after “turning around the country … as the sick man of Europe”.

“What I sensed in the 1980s was a growing sense of pride in our country and a growing sense of optimism in our future. I think the pinnacle was when we saw the Berlin Wall fall. When we saw the freedom and democracy and pride in our values influencing the rest of the world.”

On to the yes or no questions.

Is Love Island misogynistic, Ferrari asks. Truss says she watched it recently with her daughter and was horrified but does not answer the question directly.

Then Ferrari asks if England and Wales should boycott the World Cup in Qatar, after previously backing a boycott of the Champions League final in Moscow. She says not.

“If we insisted that every contry we traded with, or did business with, or attended a football match in, had the same standards as the United Kingdom, we wouldn’t be doing business with many countries. We need to be pragmatic. What Russia did to Ukraine was beyond the pail.”

Truss then says she has never used illegal drugs.

Ferrari asks Truss if her plans really add up.

She says all of her tax reductions are costed.

“There is £30bn in the budget, and we will be able to start paying down debt in three years. It’s a false economy to raise taxes when it can cut off growth, we know that, we know what Britain was like in the 1970s with high taxes and militant trade unions. I didn’t agree with those people who say you can keep raising tax and the money will keep rolling in.”

She says people won’t want to work and won’t invest if taxes stay high.

Truss says that the tax system in the UK is too complicated, in response to a question about inheritance tax. It needs to be fairer, she says, and would look at inheritance tax.

“I’d look at the overall tax system in the round and make sure it’s fair. We need to reward people who do the right thing, who set up businesses, who earn money and want to pass it on to their children.”

Ferrari asks who was better, Theresa May or Boris Johnson after Truss served both of them.

“Put it this way, in the 2016 leadership election after the referendum I backed Boris first, then I backed Theresa May once Boris had left the race. I’ve always been a fan of Boris Johnson, I think he did a fantastic job as prime minister, he delivered Brexit, he delivered on the vaccine and I was proud to serve as a loyal member of his cabinet.”

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