RAGING Rishi Sunak has turned up the heat on his biggest rivals Ms Truss and Penny Mordaunt – accusing them of being more “socialist” than “Corbyn”.
Twisting the knife into Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt, he charged them with peddling barmy plans that would shred the Government’s economic reputation.
But the pair furiously hit back at the ex Chancellor – saying his refusal to cough up billions will force Britain into a recession.
In a ferocious 60-minute ITV debate, Tory leadership contenders tore into each other in a series of blistering blue-on-blue attacks.
Sparks flew as they argued on tax, trans rights and Brexit.
In a memorable clash, a grinning Rishi turned to Liz and said: “In your past, you’ve been both Liberal Democrat and a Remainer. I was just wondering which one you regretted most?”
Ms Truss compared her state-school education to multi-millionaire Rishi’s lessons at exclusive Winchester College.
She bit back that her own classmates were “not getting the proper educational standards that you might have got at your school, Rishi.”
Fur flew as those vying for the keys to No10 savaged each other over their record.
However, in a rare – and awkward – moment of unity, they all said they wouldn’t give Boris Johnson a spot in their Cabinet.
Kicking off the battle royale, Rishi gave his two biggest rivals both barrels for promising monster tax cuts.
Turning his fire on Liz for pledging a £34billion tax giveaway, he fumed: “I’d love to stand here and say, ‘Look, I’ll cut this tax, that tax and another tax and it will all be okay’.
“But you know what? It won’t.
“There’s a cost to these things and the cost of higher inflation, higher mortgage rates, eroded savings. And you know what?
“This ‘something for nothing’ economics isn’t Conservative. It’s socialism.”
Minutes later he savaged Penny, accusing her of tearing up fiscal rules to put day-to-day spending “on the country’s credit card”.
“It’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous”, he fumed.
What happened in tonight’s debate?
- Mr Sunak says he never had non-dom tax status – and is “incredibly proud” of his billionaire father-in-law’s company
- He and Ms Truss repeatedly took aim at each other, with the Foreign Secretary admitting that while she’s “not the slickest presenter on this stage”, she’s “honest”
- All the hopefuls dismissed the idea of a snap general election when the new PM takes over
- They were also asked to put up their hands if they backed Brexit at the referendum, with Ms Truss unable to say she did
- Mr Tugendhat said all the other candidates were tainted by having served in Boris Johnson’s Government
“And you know what, even Jeremy Corbyn didn’t suggest that we should go that far.”
But both women hit back. Liz bashed Rishi for hiking taxes to their highest level since the 1940s, and Penny accused the MP – who is married to a billionaire heiress – of being out of touch.
Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch were next to wage battle as she accused him of “criticising what we’ve been doing” while not a minister himself.
“Talking is easy,” she said.
But defending his back-bencher status, Mr Tugendhat said those who served in Boris Johnson’s Government only “lent credibility to the chaos”.
Ms Mordaunt was also speared again over her record on trans rights.
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