Rishi Sunak appeared to win a surprise victory with studio audiences in a crucial debate with Liz Truss, the frontrunner in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister, on Thursday.
While opinion polls returned the truce to win votes among Conservative Party members, those in the audience at the Sky News debate supported the craze in a show of hands – after an electronic voting system broke down.
Truss faced scathing inquiries from Burley of the presenter, including a run-through of his policy U-turn and the question: “Will the real Liz Truss please stand up?”
Truss was forced to make another U-turn earlier on Monday after a damning statement by his campaign team that the government could lose ££ a year if it paid less wages to public sector workers living outside London. 8.8 billion ($10.75 billion).
“You wanted to cut the pay of civil servants in the regions and then you said you didn’t,” Burley said, listing his policy U-turn.
Truss insisted that the proposal was misrepresented by the media.
“Should good leaders own up to their mistakes, or should they blame others?” Burley asked him.
“I am not blaming anyone else. I am not. I am not. I am saying that the policy has been misrepresented by various people,” Truss said nervously.
Soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Burley challenged Truss’s remarks that it would support the British fighting on the Ukrainian side.
British fighters have since been captured and convicted as mercenaries and facing possible death sentences in the Donetsk separatist region.
Truss insisted that the travel advice was always that British people should not travel to Ukraine.
Sunak also faced tough questions and took a quip about his taste in designer loafers.
“People think you can’t walk a mile in their shoes because you’re walking in your Prada shoes,” said Burley, whose father-in-law is a billionaire.
He made fun of Sunak’s insistence on his humble roots as he mentioned that his father was a doctor in the National Health Service (NHS).
“I grew up in an NHS family, you must have heard about this campaign,” he said.
“He never mentioned it!” Burley intervened.
The final vote showed a larger number of hands for Sunak than Truss, as Burley admitted: “I didn’t expect it.”
The result of a vote between Truss and Sunak to decide who will replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on 5 September.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)