Sunak and Truss disagree over UK stance on China and clothing choices

From Britain’s stance on China to each other’s wardrobe, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak clashed over a range of topics during their latest leadership debate.

The foreign secretary and the former chancellor were also pressed to clarify whether they would send British troops to Ukraine and how they felt about offering Boris Johnson a seat in their cabinet.

Here are the key points raised during the hour-long meeting, which was broadcast by BBC News and took place in the Staffordshire town of Stoke-on-Trent.

– Mr. Sunak accused Ms. Truss of seeking closer relations with China, which the foreign minister vehemently disputed.

Mr. Sunak said: “There was a time when Liz talked about the golden era of relations with China, and the mission talked about closer cooperation in areas such as food security and technology.


Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss take part in the BBC Conservative Leadership Debate “Our Next Prime Minister” (Jacob King/PA).

“But what we need to do is recognize that China is a threat to our national security, it is a threat to our economic security.”

He added that during his term as chancellor, the government introduced a National Security Investment Bill that gives the UK the ability to “protect itself from countries like China that are trying to infiltrate our companies and steal our technology.”

Miss Truss interjected, saying, “Rishi, I challenged you in a debate last week.

“Until a month ago, you were pushing for closer trade relations with China.”

She accused Mr. Sunak’s former department, the Treasury, of seeking “closer economic relations” with China, while the Foreign Ministry took “the toughest stance” on the country, including “it’s clear that Taiwan should be able to defend himself.” “.

– Ms. Truss stated that she would not deploy British troops in Ukraine, while Mr. Sunak suggested the same, but did not clearly express his position.

Asked if she would send a British navy to defend Ukraine, Ms Truss said: “I’m not ready for the UK to be directly involved in the conflict.”


Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak offered not to send British troops to Ukraine as prime minister (Niall Carson/PA).

She stated that the UK had done “everything it could”, including sending weapons and ensuring the release of grain from Odessa, but since Ukraine is not in NATO, “it would not be right to transfer our troops and resources directly.”

When asked the same question, Mr. Sunak said: “I think we should actually take a step back and admit that we have imposed one of the strongest sets of economic sanctions the world has ever seen, and which is really hindered Putin’s military efforts.

“We also made sure to financially support Ukraine by giving it the weapons it needs to defend itself, which is actually something that Liz and I have been working on together.”

– The two leadership contenders tore apart each other’s views on how best to deal with the cost of living crisis, including tax

Ms Truss said crashing the economy to pay down debt faster is a “big mistake,” adding: “When you have a major world event, a major economic shock, trying to pay off debt as quickly as possible is wrong. what needs to be done economically.


Rishi Sunak during the BBC Tory leadership debate (Jacob King/PA).

Intervening, Mr Sunak argued that in times of high inflation and rising interest rates it was “unwise” to “engage in massive borrowing of tens of billions of pounds and fuel inflation”.

He also accused Ms Truss of pledging “nearly £40bn of unsecured tax credits…it’s the country’s credit card.”

Responding to this, Ms. Truss said: “Rishi, this is not true, according to my plans, we will start paying debts in three years, Covid was a once in 100 year event, no other country collects taxes at this time. So far, the OECD has described Rishi’s policy as restrictive.”

– Liz Truss did not retract her cabinet colleague’s comments on the cost of Mr. Sunak’s clothing.

Both were asked about Culture Minister Nadine Dorris criticizing Mr Sunak’s expensive wardrobe and praising Ms Truss’s more modest clothes.


Culture Secretary Nadine Dorris makes fun of Mr. Sunak’s expensive clothes (James Manning/PA)

The former chancellor said: “I think that in the Conservative Party we judge people by their character and their actions.

“I’m proud of my track record as chancellor in helping some of the most vulnerable people in the last couple of years.”

Ms Truss declined to “deny” the remarks made by Ms Dorries.

She said, “I’m not going to give Rishi fashion advice. I mean, I said he was very well dressed. I’m not going to give him fashion advice.

“And I don’t think that’s really a key issue in the campaign, to be honest.”

– Boris Johnson will not be cabinet minister in the next government, whoever becomes prime minister

Asked if she would give the outgoing leader a role in her cabinet, Ms Truss replied: “I just don’t think it will.”


Boris Johnson won’t sit in either Sunak’s or Trouss’ cabinet, leadership contenders say. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

She added: “Having spent time with him this week on foreign affairs, I very, very suspect that he would not want to hold a government position in the future, I think he needs a well-deserved break from what has been very difficult. years.”

Asking the same question, Mr. Sunak said: “The simple answer from me is no, I think we need to look ahead at this stage, so I want to be prime minister.”

– Ms Truss described how she grew up in a “poor opportunity” environment growing up in West Yorkshire, and Mr Sunak talked about his family’s humble origins.

The Foreign Minister said: “I am fully committed to raising the level.

“For me, this is not just a slogan, this is the story of my life. I saw what happened in Leeds when children were frustrated by the combination of low expectations, poor opportunities and low educational standards.


Liz Truss opens up about her childhood in Leeds. (Jacob King/PA)

“Therefore, raising the level for me means changing the investment rules of the Ministry of Finance so that they are fair throughout the country. At the moment they prefer London.”

Mr. Sunak said: “My family emigrated here 60 years ago, I was talking about my mother. She ran a local pharmacy in Southampton. That’s why I grew up working in a store, delivering drugs. I worked as a waiter at an Indian restaurant down the road.

“And I’m standing here because of the hard work, self-sacrifice and love of my parents and the opportunities they gave me, and that’s why I want to be prime minister, because I want everyone, your children and grandchildren, those very opportunities that I had.”

He said the upscaling “should mean that no matter where you grow up, you have fantastic opportunities to reach your potential, but also a huge pride in the place you call home.”

– Both candidates talked about how they lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Ms Truss said: “I was an environmentalist before it was fashionable. I was a teenage environmentalist who opposed the destruction of the ozone layer.


Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss embrace after participating in a BBC Conservative leadership debate (Jacob King/PA)

“And I have always believed that we should save our resources.

“I am naturally a thrifty person. I like saving money and it also helps the environment, so it’s about less use, less waste, especially food waste, which I consider to be a major problem in this country.”

She added that “innovation” is needed to “get new technologies that can help us do better.”

On the three things people need to change in their lives to help tackle climate change faster, Mr. Sunak said: reducing energy use, recycling, and focusing on innovation for green technologies.

The former chancellor said he consulted with his two daughters, who are “experts in this matter in our house.”