Truss and Cinque Leeds are trying to woo northern Tory voters at the hustings.

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Ishi Sunak and Liz Truss are set to go head-to-head in the first official meeting with Tory MPs in Leeds, as candidates try to woo northern voters and blue-collar attacks intensify in the race for the top job. are

It is the first of 12 sessions across the country for the party faithful to question the final two candidates before voting for the party’s next leader and prime minister, ending on September 2.

The two-hour hosting will air on LBC Radio from 7pm and will be hosted by presenter Nick Ferrari.

The event takes place in Leeds, where Ms Truss was hoping to win voters’ support by fully backing Northern Powerhouse Rail and promising to “turbocharge investment” in the north of England.

During a visit to the Yorkshire city, Ms Truss insisted she was “absolutely committed” to a scheme to improve rail links between Liverpool and Leeds, originally announced by Boris Johnson but later dropped. Left behind.

She told reporters: “I grew up in Leeds, I know how bad the transport is and to be honest it hasn’t gotten much better than when I was a teenager in Leeds city centre. Was taking the bus.

“What I want to see is really great rail services, better roads so people can get to work”.

Liz Truss during a visit to a broadband interchange company in Leeds (Ian Forsyth/PA) / PA Wire

Asked how she would afford the scheme, which she promised would cut taxes, Ms Truss said: “The tax cuts I am making are affordable within our budget.

“By creating new low-tax investment zones in places like West Yorkshire, enabling post-Brexit reforms, drawing more investment out of the city, we will grow the economy faster – leading to more tax revenue. , and enable us to afford these projects.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Hague accused Mrs Truss of offering only “weasel words” on the delivery of new lines.

The foreign secretary also promised to “fix the Treasury’s funding formula” if she gets the keys to No 10 to ensure the region gets its “fair share” of resources.

Ms Truss took a swipe at Mr Sink, who is MP for the North Yorkshire seat of Richmond, when asked if he was equally committed to the rail project, saying: “The thing about me is That’s what I’m ready for. Embrace the Whitehall orthodoxy, I’m ready to challenge the groupthink that has underinvested in this part of the country for decades.

The Foreign Secretary’s campaign was also boosted by the endorsement of Tory MPs’ Northern Research Group (NRG) leader Jack Barry.

He described her as “a figure who has the energy to bring action and delivery to ensure we get our United Kingdom up to par”.

Ms Truss’ promises of sweeping tax cuts have helped her lead in opinion polls and member surveys.

However, new YouGov polling shows Mr Sink has a significant lead over his rival in 2019 with Tory voters leaving the party, even as both candidates are “significantly unpopular” with the public overall. .

The poll is a boost for Mr Sink, who is trying to regain his footing after being accused of “flip-flopping” over his fiscal policy, as he repeatedly branded Ms Truss’ tax cut plans. Despite promising to temporarily reduce VAT on energy bills. As “cozy fairy tales”.

Mr Johnson mocked his former chancellor’s U-turn, telling the Commonwealth Business Forum in Birmingham that his successor would “continue the same programme”, with “fuel from every burden from Solvency II to MiFID to VAT”. Redemption is involved”. It’s easier than we thought.”

In his latest policy announcement, Mr Sink said he would protect “valuable” greenbelts as he argued more homes could be built on brownfield sites, a strategy critics called “mere rhetoric”. described as ‘doing nothing to solve the housing crisis’.

In the latest sign of the bitter, personal nature of the Tory leadership battle, Mr Sink has again come under fire from Nadine Dorries over his infidelity with the prime minister.

The Culture Secretary, an ally of Mr Johnson and now a supporter of Ms Truss, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am deeply disappointed that Boris Johnson has been ousted in a ruthless coup, as he The scale was led by Rishi Sanka.”

He defended his earlier jibe about the millionaire ex-chancellor’s expensive clothes and said he had warned the race to replace Mr Johnson would “unleash the hellhound”.

Mr Sink, who admitted he was the “underdog” in the contest in an interview with Conservative Home, was praised by senior supporter George Eustice for his “very good judgement”.

The environment secretary told Sky News: “I think our country needs it as we try to get out of these difficult times”.

Former chief whip Mark Harper, another ally of Mr Sink, defended the former chancellor’s decision to announce his pledge to cut VAT from household energy bills for a year at this stage of the race.

Asked why Mr Sink didn’t open his campaign with the plans, Mr Harper told BBC Newsnight: “They’ve announced it because it looks like several hundreds of pounds in energy prices. The increase may be more than we thought.

“And he’s always said very consistently that if he needs to do more, he will.”

The hustings in Leeds come as mayors across England have written to both candidates to express their concerns about the Government’s plans for Northern Transport.

Andy Burnham, Tracy Braban, Steve Rotheram, Oliver Coppard and Jamie Driscoll asked the winning candidate to meet with them to agree “a better way forward for the North”.

“This is an important decision that will affect the lives of future generations of Northerners. We owe it to them to show the highest possible ambition for what the North of England can be in the future,” he wrote. .

Consumer champion Martin Lewis urged both candidates to produce an emergency package of aid to help “panic” families as energy bills skyrocket.