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Truss-Sunak news – live: Tories fear election loss in two years amid ‘puerile’ battle

‘Good god no’: Former Tory MP says she wouldn’t rejoin party under Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss

The Conservative Party will be out of power in two years’ time if it continues on its “current trajectory” of “embarrassing” episodes during the leadership contest, an MP has warned.

Cabinet Office minister Johnny Mercer made cutting remarks during the party’s leadership contest that has rivals Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss preparing for their first TV head-to-head debate on BBC tonight.

Mr Mercer said the contest has become “puerile” after MP Angela Richardson tweeted “FFS Nadine! Muted” in response to Nadine Dorries’ critical comments about Mr Sunak’s expensive clothes.

Ms Dorries, the culture secretary, tweeted: “Liz Truss will be traveling the country wearing her earrings which cost circa £4.50 from Claire Accessories. Meanwhile…

“Rishi visits Teeside in Prada shoes worth £450 and sported £3,500 bespoke suit as he prepared for crunch leadership vote.”

Mr Mercer said: “Probably worth remembering that on current trajectory we are out of power in two years’ time.

“The puerile nature of this leadership contest is embarrassing. Time to raise the standards.”

Next week, the 160,000-strong Tory membership will vote on whether Mr Sunak or Ms Truss will succeed Mr Johnson.

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Analysis | How do Truss and Sunak plan to fix the economy if they become PM?

Sir Keir Starmer has sought to draw the battle lines for the next election, vowing to put the economy at the center of the debate with “growth, growth and growth” as Labour’s priorities, writes our business reporter ben chapman.

It should be fertile ground for the opposition, which has 12 years of lackluster economic performance to point to. However, Starmer will have to fight against a lingering public perception that, despite their recent record, the Conservatives are the most competent party on the economy.

Some of the work has been done for him by the candidates for the Tory leadership – who have spent much of the past few weeks tearing into their own party’s record in a bid to score points against their fellow candidates.

You can find out more about their respective plans to fix the economy below:

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‘Rail is probably different’: Starmer claims ‘pragmatism’ on nationalization

Here is more from Sir Keir Starmer on the issue of nationalization – as conflicting statements by members of his shadow cabinet cast confusion over Labour’s stance on public ownership of rail and utility firms, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves saying such a move was not compatible with the party’s new “fiscal rules”.

The Labor leader also indicated a retreat from a pledge he made when he was running for the party’s leadership in 2019 to support “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

“I take a pragmatic approach rather than an ideological one, I agree with what Rachel Reeves said this morning,” he initially told reporters in Liverpool. “Having come through the pandemic, it’s very important we have very, very clear priorities and that’s why we’ve set out fiscal rules already as an opposition.”

He added: “My mission is growth and underpinning that mission is a partnership arrangement with business, where the mission is set by an incoming Labor government and we empower business to work with us in delivering on that mission.”

However, he later indicated Labor would stick to plans to nationalise the railways, telling The Mirror: “Rail is probably different from the others because so much of our rail is already in public ownership. That is what I mean about not being ideological about it. Pragmatically, that is the situation, and it’s going to be the situation for some time to come.”

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Voters prefer Starmer to both Truss and Sunak, polling suggests

UK voters appear to believe that Sir Keir Starmer would make a better prime minister than both of the remaining Tory leadership candidates.

New polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that the Labor leader sits five points ahead of Liz Truss – and 10 points ahead of Rishi Sunak.

It seems that the ex-chancellor’s greater prominence may play some role in the findings, with a smaller proportion of those surveyed saying they “don’t know” which candidate they prefer than in the Truss-Starmer head-to-head.

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ICYMI: Labor says it will not nationalise rail, water or energy

Labor will not go into the next election promising to take private rail, energy or water companies back under public ownership, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said.

She said the policies were not compatible with new “fiscal rules” that Labor in government would introduce to restrain public spending.

Read the full story here by Jon Stone

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Sunak’s fashion critic Dorries ‘owned £6k diamond earrings’

Nadine Dorries, who criticized Rishi Sunak for wearing a bespoke designer suit during the Tory leadership campaign, had reportedly owned a pair of £6,000 earrings.

Earlier today, culture secretary Ms Dorries tried to portray Liz Truss as the more humble candidate by tweeting that the foreign secretary would be traveling the UK wearing £4.50 earrings from Claire’s Accessories.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries is backing Liz Truss to become PM

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Culture secretary Nadine Dorries is backing Liz Truss to become PM

(Victoria Jones/PA)

She pointed out that Mr Sunak, who was campaigning in Teesside, wore a £3,500 Henry Herbert suit and £450 Prada shoes.

Ms Dorries’ focus on the former chancellor’s wardrobe – and the responses to her remarks – led Cabinet Office minister Johnny Mercer to describe the leadership contest as “puerile” and “embarrassing”.

Sky News reported that, in a 2007 interview carried out by Guardian, Ms Dorries said she owned £6,000 diamond earrings – adding: “I don’t skimp on jewellery. I’ve designed some pieces myself at a bespoke jeweller.”

Alistair Campbell, the communications director for Tony Blair when he was prime minister, said he agreed with Mr Mercer – adding: “The whole thing is like watching a bunch of spoiled stupid brats playing at being politicians.”

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PM’s spokesman denies Brexit caused port travel chaos

Boris Johnson says French staff shortages and an accident on the M20 are to blame for the long hours-long queues at Kent ports over recent days.

The UK’s departure from the European Union means travelers face more rigorous passports and other checks before crossing the Channel.

But the prime minister’s spokesman said the post-Brexit checks did not “necessitate” the huge queues seen on Friday and over the weekend, while declining to say they played no part at all.

Read the full story here by Rob Merrick

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Labor frontbench split over rail and utilities nationalization

Labour’s frontbench appears to be split over whether to nationalize rail and utilities if the party wins power in the next election.

Today, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labor wouldn’t take the companies into public ownership. She said the party’s post-pandemic “fiscal rules” mean such policies – included in former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s manifestos – would have to be scrapped.

Mr Corbyn’s successor Sir Keir Starmer said he agreed with Ms Reeves, and added that he would choose to take a “pragmatic” approach to nationalisation.

But deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner and shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh have reaffirmed their support for bringing rail and utility companies under public control.

Ms Haigh wrote, in a post retweeted by Ms Rayner: “Labour is committed to public ownership of rail and putting the public back in control of our bus network to drive down prices, improve services and meet net zero.”

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‘Leadership contest should focus on ideas, not personalities’

Conservative former leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat said the party’s leadership battle should focus on ideas rather than the contenders’ personalities.

Tom Tugendhat was knocked-out of the leadership contest last week

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Tom Tugendhat was knocked-out of the leadership contest last week

(Reuters)

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s World At One program about the tone of the current leadership debate, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee said: “Conservative ideas need a champion and we need to be uniting behind them.

“And so I hope very much what we’ll do is we’ll see this debate focus on ideas rather than on personalities.”

Asked if he would serve in either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet, he said: “I would serve any Conservative leader who asked me to because it’s about serving the country and serving the British people, and it would be a privilege to do so. ”

Mr Tugendhat was knocked-out in the leadership race last week after receiving the least amount of votes from Tory MPs.

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‘Just me then?’: Sunak in dig at Truss over C4 interview

Rishi Sunak’s team has attempted to capitalize on his competitor Liz Truss’ hesitancy to be questioned by veteran political journalist Andrew Neil.

Channel 4 announced that former chancellor Mr Sunak will be interviewed on the Andrew Neil Show on Friday about his bid to become the next prime minister – something Boris Johnson had refused to do before becoming PM in 2019.

In response to the announcement, Mr Sunak tweeted using a winking emoji: “Just me then?”

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‘Tories will be out of power if puerile episodes continue’ – MP

The Conservative Party will be out of power in two years’ time if it continues on its “current trajectory” of “embarrassing” episodes during the leadership contest, an MP has warned.

Tory MP Johnny Mercer made cutting remarks during the party’s leadership contest that has rivals Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss preparing for their first TV debate on BBC tonight.

Mr Mercer said the contest has become “puerile” after MP Angela Richardson tweeted “FFS Nadine! Muted” in response to Nadine Dorries’ critical comments about Mr Sunak’s expensive clothes.

He said: “Probably worth remembering that on current trajectory we are out of power in two years’ time.

“The puerile nature of this leadership contest is embarrassing. Time to raise the standards.”

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