Sunak jeered by voters in Doncaster
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Rishi Sunak came under pressure when one audience member asked the former Chancellor about the saying “he who wields the dagger will never inherit the crown” – in reference to his resignation before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would step down. Mr Sunak’s supporters in the crowd booed the question, but the Tory leadership tackled the question head-on.
Mr Sunak replied: “Yes. It was really sad. I was sad I had to resign actually. I was sad I resigned but actually, you are totally and respectfully you are simply wrong to say that I wielded the dagger.
“Because because you know what? It wasn’t just me who felt that enough was enough.
“The Government was on the wrong side of yet another ethical decision and it was 60 other members of parliament also thought that enough was enough because we wanted to change things and that’s why we’re here.”
The staging of the fifth Tory hustings convinced around one-third of the audience who they should back to become the next prime minister, according to a show of hands.
A full house at Darlington Hippodrome listened to speeches from backers of the two contenders and then watched Mr Sunak and Liz Truss state their case, followed by a question and answer session led by moderator Tom Newton-Dunn.
Opening the event, the Talk TV presenter asked those in the audience who were still undecided to show their hands, and he estimated around 40 percent did so.
At the end of the hustings, he asked those who remained undecided to put their hand up, quickly guessing that around 10 percent or 15 percent were still to make their minds up.
The liveliest portion of the event came when members of the audience were able to ask questions, with topics ranging from dualling the A1, the real meaning of levelling up, Remainers at the top of the civil service, and transgender rights.
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When Mr Newton-Dunn asked Ms Truss whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been to blame for his own downfall, some in the audience shouted out that it was the media.
She replied: “It sounds like you are being blamed, Tom, and who am I to disagree with this excellent audience?”
When pressed, Ms Truss added: “What is done is done, and we are where we are.”
Mr Sunak said he would be happy to get in a room with Ms Truss and Mr Johnson to talk about future cost of living support, but said at the end of the day Liz Truss’s tax-cutting plans are “not going to work”.
It follows Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), saying on Tuesday that the Prime Minister and the two contenders to replace him should “come together to agree on a common pledge to support people and help quell fears”.
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Speaking at the hustings in Darlington, Mr Sunak said that if the most vulnerable people who “most need” support are not given help “not only will millions of people suffer, we will get absolutely hammered when it comes to an election”.
Asked if he would get in a room with Ms Truss and Mr Johnson and decide on additional support prior to September 5, Mr Sunak said he was “happy to do that”, but said the answer to that question is at stake in the contest.
He said: “If you only want to help these people with tax cuts – I’m struggling to see how it’s possible.
“So we can get in a room all you want, but at the end of the day, that policy is not going to work. So if you can get Liz to change her mind on that when she talks to you I’m very happy to get in the room and we can hammer this out.”
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