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Tory leadership live: Truss and Sunak to go head to head in first hustings

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Moment Nadine Dorries interview goes off air after incident behind camera

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are set to go head to head again tonight in the first official Tory hustings in the contest to decide the country’s next prime minister.

It comes after a series of live television debates saw the former chancellor and foreign secretary trade blows over issues from the cost of living crisis to the war in Ukraine.

Tonight’s event is the first of 12 official hustings to decide who will succeed Boris Johnsons.

The remaining two candidates embarked upon tours of the nation, both unveiling plans to crack down violence against women and girls. Mr Sunak proposed a new “down-blousing” offence, while Liz Truss offered a law against misogynistic street harassment.

It comes after senior conservatives criticised Nadine Dorries’ claim that Boris Johnson was ousted in a “ruthless coup” – with one Tory MP labelling her comments “plain stupid”.

Warning that the prime minster’s removal had “unleashed the hounds of hell”, the culture secretary claimed that his “defenestration” had been “largely led” by Rishi Sunak, and defended recently mocking the ex-chancellor’s expensive attire given that “judgment is a huge issue” in the current leadership race.

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Sunak to face BBC’s Nick Robinson in one-to-one interview

Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak has agreed to be interviewed by Nick Robinson.

Although the broadcaster said it hopes Liz Truss will take part in an interview with the veteran political journalist in August, the foreign secretary’s campaign team has not yet confirmed if she will agree.

The BBC News Press Team said on Twitter: “We can confirm Rishi Sunak will take part in a one-to-one interview with Nick Robinson on Wednesday 10 August.

“As we announced last week, we’ve invited both candidates to be interviewed and we hope Liz Truss will join us later in August.”

A spokesperson for Mr Sunak’s campaign said: “If you want to make the case for why you should be prime minister, it’s only right that you subject yourself to maximum scrutiny with the toughest interviewers.

“Rishi is looking forward to sitting down with Nick and discussing some of the most challenging issues this country has faced for generations.”

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When and where are the 12 Tory leadership hustings?

Tonight’s event is the first of 12 official hustings to decide who will succeed Boris Johnsons.

The dates and venues for the remaining 11 debates are:

  • Leeds on 28 July
  • Exeter on 1 August
  • Cardiff on 3 August
  • Eastbourne on 5 August
  • Darlington on 9 August
  • Cheltenham on 11 August
  • Perth on 16 August
  • Northern Ireland on 17 August
  • Manchester on 19 August
  • Birmingham on 23 August
  • Norwich on 25 August
  • London on 31 August
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Labour urges government to U-turn on ‘windfall tax loophole’

The Labour chairman of the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee urged the government to “take a U-turn” on a “loophole” in its windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Darren Jones said: “There are two things we can do with the windfall tax.

“The first is the Ggvernment can take a U-turn on the loophole they put in which allowed oil and gas companies to spend their profits on drilling for more oil and gas before paying the windfall tax.

“If they take that loophole out, we will raise more money through the windfall tax.

“And the second issue they’ll need to consider is whether they need to extend it to other electricity generating companies, albeit with some valid exemptions, for example, community-owned power, but that could raise more money too.”

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Truss and Sunak to go head to head tonight

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are poised to go head to head tonight in the first official hustings with Tory members in Leeds, as the candidates seek to woo northern voters and blue-on-blue attacks intensify in the race for the top job.

It is the first of 12 sessions for party faithful across the country to quiz the final two candidates before voting for the next party leader and prime minister closes on September 2.

The two-hour hustings will be broadcast on LBC radio from 7pm and hosted by presenter Nick Ferrari.

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‘Weasel words’ on northern rail infrastructure

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh has accused the Conservative leadership candidates of offering “weasel words” on northern rail infrastructure and said only a Labour government would deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and HS2 “in full”.

Commenting on Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s commitments to NPR, Ms Haigh said: “A lost decade of broken Tory promises on rail has led to chronic delays and overcrowding, holding the northern economy back.

“People in the North are sick and tired of empty words of this discredited Government – and the weasel words of the two continuity candidates over whether they will deliver the new lines promised show they are only offering more of the same.

“Only a Labour government would deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full, build the infrastructure fit for the 21st century, and give Britain the fresh start it needs.”

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Truss and Sunak ‘cannot ignore’ need for more homes in south of England, policy expert says

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss cannot ignore the need for more homes in the South of England, a policy expert has said.

“Both candidates need to be honest with Tory members that we need more homes, in the South in particular,” said Alex Morton, head of policy at the Centre for Policy Studies, a right of centre think-tank.

“Other policies such as boosting brownfield or reducing immigration could help on housing, but the candidates have not set out how to achieve either, and in any case, the scale of the housing crisis means the wider need for more homes in the South, including on greenfield sites, cannot be ignored.”

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Nadine Dorries appears to forget Glasgow hosted Commonwealth Games in 2014

North of the border, the Daily Record has picked up on the fact that Nadine Dorries either seemed to forget or ignore the fact that Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014, while speaking to broadcasters in Birmingham this morning.

The minister in charge of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “I don’t think we’ve had a sense of occasion, particularly a sense of sporting occasion, like this since the 2012 Olympics. It’s amazing for Birmingham.”

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Rees-Mogg calls for fracking and more North Sea oil extraction

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said “we need to be extracting as much as we possibly can from our North Sea oil fields”.

The Cabinet Office minister was asked on the BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme whether the extraordinary profits that energy companies have made should be redistributed given the pain many households are feeling on energy.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “I think what we need to be doing is getting more gas out of the ground, we need to be extracting as much as we possibly can from our North Sea oil fields.

“And we need to extract shale gas from the United Kingdom because if you have a strong domestic market you are less affected by the international price, which has been the experience of the United States, and you also increase energy security.

“If that is going to happen, it’s going to need investment by the energy companies, and investment is going to be much less likely if you apply retrospective taxes to them.”

On energy companies restarting dividends, he said: “Dividends go to the people in the companies who are individuals or their representative pension funds, so I think hostility to dividends is not a wise economic policy.”

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Sunak’s housing pledge ‘is just rhetoric’ and ‘will further force up house prices’

Rishi Sunak’s new housing policy (see post at 11:14) of building on brownfield sites and further protecting green belt areas is “just rhetoric” and will do nothing to solve the housing crisis, an academic has said.

“We already don’t build on the green belt. It’s a complete myth. The area of green belt has hardly changed since 1973,” Professor Paul Cheshire, from the London School of Economics, told the Press Association.

Adding that building on brownfield sites first has been policy since the 1990s, he said: “The problem is for young people, or even middle-aged people, it’s really bad news because there’s a commitment to do it and it will further put up house prices and further increase the volatility of the housing market.”

Conservative voters are more likely to be homeowners and, referring to a by-election defeat for which planning policies were partly blamed, he added: “It’s just noise, it’s just rhetoric. He’s appealing to Conservative members post Chesham and Amersham.

“Rishi Sunak isn’t an idiot. He understands what the consequences of rationing supply are going to be.”

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Opinion | The Labour Party should get off Twitter – before it’s too late

Labour is “obsessed by what’s happening on Twitter and it is hurting the party”, argues Sunny Hundal, the deputy editor of Independent Voices.

He writes: “If the party wants to come across as moderate, nuanced and less hysterical, getting its MPs to stop using Twitter would be a great start.

“The Labour Party has to choose between appealing to people on Twitter, or the wider public. If it wants to get elected it needs to do the latter.”

You can read his thinking in full here:

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