Campaign Update: Black Thursday Fallout

Good Friday morning. There are 29 days left of the Tory leadership campaign. Last night the candidates once again faced off – sort of – in a live TV debate, this time on Sky News. Format changes meant the pair never went head-to-head, instead fielding audience questions and sitting down for separate interviews with Kay Burley. Luckily, to keep things entertaining, Dominic Raab and Kwasi Kwarteng decided to lock horns on behalf of their respective candidates in the green room… 

Today’s new policy:

  • Today Liz meets with City investors to unveil her plan to “turbocharge investment and boost economic growth”.
  • This primarily consists of supply-side reform to “unleash billions of investment for British business” and reduce regulation.
  • Cutting EU red tape will be a key part of this. Liz is promising to introduce a ‘sunset’ clause for every piece of EU-derived law on the statute books, and tests for whether they support UK growth by the end of 2023. One-upping Rishi, who’s only promised to review all remaining EU laws by the next election…
  • Laws that don’t pass the tests will either be scrapped entirely, or reworked with the help of industry experts “create business friendly home-grown regulation that further encourages business investment and boosts growth.”

During the debate:

  • Liz said the Bank of England’s projection of a recession could be avoided: “What the Bank of England have said today is of course extremely worrying but it is not inevitable. We can change the outcome.”
  • Claimed her plan to reverse the Corporation Tax and National Insurance hikes would help.
  • Disapointingly said she no longer supported building on the Green Belt, having “changed her view” since she argued for building a million homes on it in 2019.
  • Reiterated that the “misrepresentations” and “concerns” over her regional pay boards policy mean she’s not going ahead with it,  adding “it wasn’t the right policy to deal with this situation, and therefore I withdrew the policy.”
  • Ruled out apologising to Nicola Sturgeon for saying it was best to “ignore her“. A smattering of applause for that one…

Also:

  • Liz received a major boost after the New European posted an article entitled ’39 good reasons Liz Truss will be a terrible Prime Minister’
  • A second poll in a row has found Liz to be more popular than Keir Starmer, widening her lead to three points. A Team Liz source joked to Guido that with Rishi we’ll get socialism for two years followed by socialism for another 5”

  • No shiny new policies today from Rishi, other than a nebulous promise during the debate to up defence spending, which Team Liz is claiming is his twelfth u-turn.
  • Instead, his team put out a punchy press release after the programme attacking Truss for “spending £29 billion in the first minute” of the broadcast with her plans to scrap Rishi’s NI rise and green levies.
  • The team also stirred the pot again over Liz’s regional pay boards U-turn, saying she’d “continued to blame the media despite her own release being clear“.
  • Followed up by pointing out two other apparent U-turns:

“Having pledged to build a million homes on the greenbelt, Liz Truss said that she does not want to build on the greenbelt – another u-turn. In a further u-turn, she acknowledged that she was wrong to suggest that British civilians should go and fight in Ukraine.”

During the debate:

  • Rishi insisted he wouldn’t drop out of the campaign, even with Liz’s enormous poll lead.
  • Dismissed the number of “Tory big beast” endorsements going her way by pointing to his consistent lead in the MP voting rounds.
  • Pledged to increase defence spending, although ruled out setting an arbitrary target. A bit of a surprise, given he’d reportedly resisted doing exactly that as Chancellor…
  • Insisted Ben Wallace was wrong to say he asked Boris to overrule Rishi giving more cash to the Armed Forces.
  • Defended his plan to fine those who miss GP appointments, saying the NHS is “free at the point of use, but it’s not free at the point of misuse”. Although admitted first offenders might be let off.
  • Won the support of the majority in the Sky audience, with far more raising their hands in support of him over Liz at the end of the programme. Sky says the audience was made up of undecided Tory members, who currently represent around 11% of the membership…

Bookies Odds (Previous in Brackets):

  • Liz Truss 1/12 (nc)
  • Rishi Sunak 11/2 (nc)

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