UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss bounced back from an embarrassing policy U-turn to regain the momentum in the race to be Britain’s next prime minister, buoyed by a fresh major endorsement and strong polling figures.
Truss received the backing of former chancellor and leadership contender Sajid Javid on Wednesday evening, a blow to her rival Rishi Sunak who’d previously worked with Javid in the Treasury. Javid, writing in the Times newspaper, said Truss would “challenge the status quo” and deliver immediate tax cuts.
Latest polling also shows Truss has a large advantage over Sunak: A Tuesday YouGov poll of Conservative Party members put the foreign secretary 34 points ahead of her opponent, and a latest survey on the ConservativeHome website gave her a similar lead.
The Javid endorsement and commanding poll leads give Truss a fresh boost after her campaign made its first major error this week, forced into a U-turn on a policy to align UK public sector pay with regional living costs after a furious backlash from Conservative MPs. Truss brushed off the episode at the latest party leadership hustings in Cardiff on Wednesday, giving a confident performance and making jokes.
“It wasn’t a central part of my policy platform,” she said. “It was misrepresented.”
Truss also reiterated that she wants to change the mandate of the Bank of England, having earlier in the campaign mooted ideas such as a money supply target or nominal GDP target for the BOE, instead of its current 2% inflation target. Truss, who didn’t give any more specifics about her plan, made the remarks ahead of the latest BOE decision on Thursday, where it’s expected to push through the biggest interest rate increase in 27 years despite growing risks of a recession.
In other developments during the latest leadership hustings:
- Sunak said he’d consider cutting inheritance tax in future
- Truss called for China to de-escalate its actions over Taiwan
- Truss said the government should provide some underwriting to nuclear energy projects
- Sunak said he would be open to building more onshore wind farms, having earlier in the campaign said he didn’t support the policy
Truss and Sunak will go head-to-head in a TV debate on Thursday at 8 p.m. before the next leadership hustings of party members in Eastbourne on Friday. The winner of the contest to be next Conservative Party leader, elected by the approximate 175 000 Tory Party members, is announced September 5.
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