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Race For 10 Downing Street: Rishi Sunak And Other Candidates Clash In First TV Debate

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The remaining five Conservative candidates in the race to the post of UK’s PM, engaged in their first TV debate on Friday night over tax and honesty in politics, as they compete to make an eventual two-person run-off.

The debate, which went on for an hour and a half, witnessed relatively few direct confrontations between them. This was the first chance for the hopefuls who aim to pitch their credentials to a national audience.

A confrontation did take place with the hopeful cornering Rishi Sunak who was forced to defend plans to keep tax rates and some of the highest levels in the decade.

As the race hots up to find the final two candidates who will face off for the PM chair, Sunak has topped the first two rounds of voting by Tory MPs this week. The former chancellor is up against fellow contenders who have vowed to slash taxes immediately.

The wealthy and polished media performer, whose political fortunes have been damaged by his family’s own tax affairs, urged both caution and patience as the UK grapples with the worst inflation in 40 years, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Borrowing your way out of inflation isn’t a plan, it’s a fairytale,” Sunak informed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, as she peddled her tax-slashing goals in the face of a rising cost-of-living crisis.

“You cannot tax your way to growth,” Truss said. “I think it is wrong to put taxes up.”

Candidates who do not stand much of a chance like Tom Tugendhat took the opportunity to pitch themselves.

“Are you serving the people of the United Kingdom or are you serving your career? Because that’s the real question tonight,” Tugendhat said, repeatedly drawing applause from attendees.

Penny Mordaunt did not directly criticise the party’s outgoing leader Boris Johnson. “There have been some really severe issues and I think he has paid a price for that,” she said.

Mordaunt was accused by other hopefuls of being inexperienced, incompetent in government jobs and shifting goalposts on transgender rights.

She was taken on by Kemi Badenoch who attacked her saying, “I can’t imagine why people are not comprehending what I say and have been regurgitating this issue for weeks and weeks,” she said.

“I’m a woman, I’m a biological woman in every cell in my body,” she said, adding that a man who had transitioned was “not the same as me”.

“I take it as a big fat compliment that no one wants to run against me,” Mordaunt said of the attacks.

A further vote and TV debate is scheduled for Tuesday, before Conservative lawmakers decide the final pair of contenders Wednesday.

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