Who will be Britain’s next Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss? – The guard | WHs Answers

Zoe Williams: At least the winner cannot distance herself from the past 12 years

Zoe Williams

I always knew that we would miss Penny Mordaunt when she wasn’t around. No, I’m just kidding. Had she or Tom Tugendhat taken the lead, there was a risk they would make a plausible argument for discontinuity and all parties would go into the next election as if the smoldering ruins of the last 12 years were nobody’s fault. Injustice would have suffocated us. So it’s great to have avoided that.

It leaves Conservative members irked, however, as all the polls – both legitimate affairs and more superficial ones – suggest this is exactly what they wanted, a clean skin. Instead they face Rishi Sunak, technocratic, anemic, probably never racist enough, or Truss, who is presented as Boris Johnson’s “continuity candidate”. What she is, in the sense that she stayed loyal and didn’t quit. But when will political parties realize that members aren’t circuit boards whose components can be endlessly replaced and still shine the same way? Truss will never be the next Johnson because she will never make people feel the same way. She knows that, which is why she keeps dressing up as Margaret Thatcher, but she’s nothing like her either.

So two candidates who seem like truly eccentric propositions to the non-conservative voter—an ex-chancellor so personally wealthy it reads like a walking conspiracy theory, a secretary of state who lists her own accomplishments—will become reading to the members like the most boring of them all. I guess Truss is taking it and I can’t wait.

Sahil Dutta: Neither offers any economic solutions

Sahil Dutta

Political parties have few organic connections to the people they are supposed to represent. This is particularly true of the Conservative Party, whose members – mostly rich, old, white and male – will choose the country’s next prime minister. This is perhaps why the economic debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss seems so far removed from the reality of British capitalism today.

Truss’ Britannia Unchained slogans about 30bn worth of tax cuts. But they’re irrelevant to the country’s unsustainable energy system, the rising cost of caring for children and the elderly, falling real wages (for everyone but 1%) or the outsized Profits that drive inflation. The UK is already an outlier for its low corporate, income and capital gains taxes. How would further cuts change living standards now when they haven’t in decades?

Sunak rehashes Osborn’s “pragmatism” on public credit. But while there is an urgent need to lower the cost of living through wealth redistribution and improved social infrastructure, there is no urgent need to reduce the deficit. Truss has long slogans but little substance and can appeal to a membership base whose commercial interests have long been secured. But for the broader British public, it is precisely this material security that is at stake.

Henry Hill: Sunak has time to win over party members

Heinrich Huegel

This year’s Conservative leadership contest could be a first in modern times, as the two candidates who were widely expected to make the last two before it began actually did. Perhaps Rishi Sunak, who had the weakest start in first place since the new rules were introduced after 1997, simply didn’t have the votes left to try to determine second place as previous frontrunners have been accused of doing. But whatever the reason, we now know the rough form of the competition: a fairly simple left-right clash between a tax-heavy tax conservative and a tax-cut liberal.

Currently, Liz Truss is the favorite to win the second round; Conservative party members are by and large not sympathetic to high taxes, even as they pursue the impeccable Tory goal of not borrowing to finance day-to-day spending. But one month is enough time for the former chancellor to turn things around. The foreign secretary has not proved a strong combatant so far, and her central thesis – that warmed-up Thatcherism will hold the “red wall” in 2024 – is extremely dubious.

Sunak, of course, has his own problems. His jibe on Truss in Sunday’s ITV debate was a serious misjudgment as millions of Tory voters are former Liberal Democrats and supporters in 2016. But for now he remains the candidate who seems more reassuring to those voters that Conservatives remain a reasonable, acceptable option – and more than anything Tory campaigners want a winner.

Moya Lothian-McLean: It’s hard to imagine Truss throwing that away

Moya Lothian-McLean

Rishi Sunak has two months to persuade the Conservative membership that they should reflect the support shown to him by other MPs. The former Chancellor may have won the most votes from peers in his bid for the leadership, but his opponent Liz Truss is – at the time of writing – a bit more popular with the Tory base. They are the ones who can ultimately determine the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It’s hard to imagine Truss throwing the competition in that time. Truss has probably already made every slip that would ruin an opponent’s chances.

Truss is an “ideologue without ideas,” as John Crace put it. Domestically, their plans are incoherent and impossible. The only area where Truss excels is in creating images. Perhaps the UK can look forward to its first wannabe influencer premiere. But if Sunak finds enough support, the promise of austerity repackaged as “fiscal responsibility” appears to be upon us. The most pressing issue of our time – the climate – seems to be low on the radar for both candidates. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer and Labor are reportedly sensing an opportunity to put their own lukewarm show on the streets and see a Truss or Sunak Premiership as the death knell for Tory chances in the next election. It would be a suitably uninspired end to that era of rock-and-a-hardplace politics.

Simon Jenkins: It should be Sunak. That couldn’t be

Simon Jenkins

Welcome to the second act of Boris Johnson’s tragedy. If polls of Tory members are to be believed, the next UK Prime Minister will be Liz Truss. Her limited experience in high office and the execution of her leadership campaign are not edifying. They suggest a vain, cliche, pseudo-right Tory without a shred of charisma or originality. Her attempts to emulate Margaret Thatcher were childishly embarrassing.

The Truss v Rishi Sunak decision now goes to a bizarre “picking” of Tory party members. Their average age in 2017 was 57 years. More than half are over 60 years old and more than 70% are male. They live mostly in southern England. That the nation’s leadership should depend on this tiny, unrepresentative group is a perversion of parliamentary democracy. It has long been established that the country’s government should be led by the person with the majority of the support of the House of Commons.

This person is Sunak. He may lack experience, but his performance at the Treasury Department during Johnson’s nightmarish premiership suggests a man of sound judgement, caution and competence. He is the preference of most of his fellow cabinet and MPs, as well as the opinion polls of the general public. He will be the next prime minister.

Johnson, who reportedly told his supporters to vote for “everyone but Sunak,” is driven by malice and lacks public interest. The only hope now is for Sunak to rise above this miserable struggle and convince his party that it is their best chance to steer the economy through a looming recession and keep Labor out of power in 2024. It’s a big task. The prospects are bleak.

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