London, July 26
Liz Truss, the incumbent caretaker Foreign Secretary in deposed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons government, beat her rival Rishi Sunak, the Indian-origin former Chancellor, according to a survey of ruling Conservative party members, the electoral college to choose the winner.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents to pollster Opinium sounding them out felt Truss performed better versus 38 per cent who thought likewise about Sunak.
However, Sunak marginally defeated Truss, again according to Opinium, in a poll of regular voters who watched the debate. Thirty-nine per cent said Sunak won, while 38 per cent stated Truss did.
The debate held at Stoke-on-Trent, a town in the west midlands of England, was hot-tempered and combative in which Sunak was noticeably aggressive, often talking over his opponent.
Sunak was trailing 62 per cent to 38 per cent in YouGov's poll of Conservative members, who will begin voting next week and will have time up to September 2 next to do so. It would appear he did not make up sufficient ground with this constituency as yet to turn the tables on Truss.
Clearly, Sunak's strategy was to attack. Several viewers interviewed after the debate thought his constant interruptions were 'rude' and they sounded as if they were displeased by such behaviour. It was certainly un-British tactics.
The two contenders clashed on tax cuts -- Sunak sticking to doing so later, Truss promising it will be as soon as she comes prime minister.
On British policy towards China, both agreed this should be tough. Sunak said Truss was on a 'journey' when it came to China, alleging she had previously argued in favour of a 'golden age' in the UK's relations with the country. Ultimately, they concurred on a clampdown on companies like TikTok.
Regarding loyalty to Johnson, Sunak resigned as chancellor of the exchequer thereby precipitating Johnson's end, while Truss remained as a caretaker foreign secretary. Both attempted to justify their opposite stances.
The debate took place against the background of the London Metropolitan Police, which fined Johnson for partying during the Covid pandemic in violation of prevalent laws, not apparently sending a questionnaire on the matter to the Prime Minister.
In effect, it did not investigate him as thoroughly as it ought to have.
On Monday, the Met, popularly known as Scotland Yard, effectively admitted in court that it had not fully probed Johnson.
The Good Law Project, a non-profit campaign group which petitioned a judicial review of the case, said: "We don't think the Met's response is consistent with their legal duty of candour." Johnson's troubles escalated with media scoops making public last December that socialising had taken place rampantly at his office-cum-residence during the Covid lockdown.
He seems to be backing Truss rather than Sunak in the race to replace him.
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