The television confrontation between Sunak and Truss remains a draw and consolidates the Foreign Minister as the favorite | International

The first television debate of the two contenders for the British conservative title has certified that the most delicate test of Boris Johnson’s succession will be to prevent the contest from further cracking a party still in shock after completing the regicide. For Liz Truss, the current foreign minister and favorite of the militancy, the challenge is slightly easier, since her main challenge was simply to avoid sabotaging the remarkable advantage that all the polls give her over her rival. Consequently, although she did not win a confrontation that, in part due to the format itself, ended in a draw, she could consider it mission accomplished, since nothing in her performance has taken her away from Number 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the prime minister.

On the contrary, for Rishi Sunak, until three weeks ago head of Finance, the only hope to prevent Truss’s coronation is to publicly knock out his adversary in forums such as the one organized this Monday by the BBC in the English city of Stoke on Trent . For this reason, she tried to capitalize on his work at the head of the Treasury as a lever to become the David who defeats Goliath, but the tables continue to turn for both. Until last Wednesday, he enjoyed his status as the favorite of those who voted, the conservative deputies, against a Truss who only managed to sneak into the final duet in the last vote.

However, who during the pandemic had been the pretty boy of the bases has lost its shine, and the militancy, according to the polls, prefers the unapologetic liberalism of its rival, who once again promised tax cuts on the BBC from day one, as well as annul controversial decisions of his adversary, such as the increases in contributions to the equivalent of Social Security and Corporation tax. And it is that, as had already happened in the debates of the parliamentary phase, the economy and, above all, fiscal policy focused a battle that benefits Truss: while Sunak refuses to lower taxes until inflation is under control, the Foreign Minister speaks in the favorite language of conservative militants, that of tax cuts.

Sunak (left) and Truss, during Monday's debate.
Sunak (left) and Truss, during Monday’s debate.POOL (REUTERS)

The problem is that it remains unclear how it will finance them, beyond increasing the loan, a bet described this Monday as “irresponsible” by who until three weeks ago managed British finances. Sunak tried to sell a long-term strategic mentality, pain now for a less mortgaged future, a position that, despite himself, opened an easy flank for Truss’s counterattack, which he sentenced: “people want to see urgent actions, they do not want to wait tomorrow”.

Neither was the victim of a mistake that derailed their aspirations, but they also failed to galvanize the campaign, and at times the extraneous, like the price of her earrings and his suits, threatened to trivialize the debate. Their slogans sounded familiar and, beyond advancing that they would be willing to have the other in their future cabinet, the only strategic novelty they dropped was how they see themselves in the race: Sunak wants to plan a change of conduct after a premier who He has fallen victim to his own and the head of Foreign Affairs presented himself as the bastion of the revolution in political matters.

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For the former Minister of Finance, the idea is delicate, above all, because he is paying dearly for the label of traitor. His resignation as head of the Treasury on July 5, just minutes after that of the then head of Health, is considered the catalyst that, in less than 48 hours, would precipitate Johnson’s fall. The British right has never shaken its pulse when it comes to getting rid of its leaders, but the emergency that the parliamentary group detected in its eviction from Downing Street contrasts with how the grassroots perceive events and, according to the newspaper Daily Telegraphconservative bible, the prime minister himself flirts with the idea that an improbable vote of the militants annuls his departure from the official residence.

In his cathodic confrontation this Monday, the candidates to relieve him, despite ruling out recruiting him for their future cabinets, were careful not to further tarnish his battered reputation, above all, because they were aware of the symbolism of where they were. Stoke on Trent is one of the territories that had voted most strongly in favor of Brexit in 2016 and, in the 2019 general elections, in which Johnson won the biggest electoral victory for the Tories in 30 years, it passed into Conservative hands for the first time . Whoever moves into the official residence next September 6 will have the great litmus test in bastions like Stoke, since parliamentary hegemony will depend, in large part, on maintaining them.

The audience of the event was made up entirely of party voters and, in their homes, the between 100,000 and 200,000 militants (the real figure has never been confirmed) who will decide the winner knew that one of the attributes necessary to lead the formation is magnetism election to guarantee victory at the polls. The next two weeks will be crucial, since the ballots will be delivered between August 1 and 5 and, although the period will remain open until September 2, conservative bases traditionally tend to vote early.

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