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Tory leadership race latest: Liz Truss strong favourite to be next PM as she faces off with Rishi Sunak

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Watch: Boris Johnson’s government wins confidence with 349 votes

Rishi Sunak declared himself as a “Thatcherite” after emerging as the Conservative party’s favourite in the leadership contest.

“My values are Thatcherite,” he wrote in The Telegraph as he made his pitch for the premiership over close contender Liz Truss. “I believe in hard work, family and integrity. I am a Thatcherite, I am running as a Thatcherite and I will govern as a Thatcherite.”

He also tried to dial down the bitter attacks saying the foreign secretary is someone he “like and respect”.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss who secured 113 votes, closely behind Mr Sunak’s 137 votes in her pitch in The Daily Mail vowed to “hit the ground running by immediately cutting taxes, growing our economy and unleashing the potential of everyone”.

Though trailing, Ms Truss is placed by the bookmakers as the frontrunner, with early indications suggesting she is more popular with Tory members ahead of a summer of campaigning.

The pair will try to win over the support of local politicians today when they participate in the private hustings for the Conservative Councillors’ Association.

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Mordaunt out as Sunak and Truss to battle it out for prime minister

The Conservative party is facing a brutal summer of vicious infighting, as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss slug it out for the keys to 10 Downing Street in what is expected to be the most tightly-fought leadership contest in decades (Andrew Woodcock writes).

There were appeals for the two contenders to succeed Boris Johnson to avoid “blue on blue” attacks on one another, amid Tory fears that a bloody battle will undermine efforts to restore public trust in the party.

The new prime minister will be chosen by an estimated 160,000 Conservative members, prompting calls for an immediate election after the new Tory leader is installed on 5 September to give all voters a say on who runs Britain.

Labour’s Conor McGinn said Tory members were being offered “two continuity candidates … both stooges of the Johnson administration whose fingerprints are all over the state the country finds itself in today”.

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Dominic Cummings mocks Tory Brexiteers for backing ‘truly useless’ Remainer Liz Truss

Dominic Cummings has mocked hardline Conservative Brexiteers for backing “truly useless Remainer” Liz Truss after she made into the final leadership run-off with Rishi Sunak (Adam Forrest writes).

The foreign secretary is now the bookies’ favourite to be Britain’s next prime minister after rival Penny Mordaunt was eliminated in the final round of voting by the party’s MPs.

The former No 10 strategist, who masterminded the Leave campaign, scoffed at the European Research Group (ERG) for getting behind Truss in her surge past Mordaunt.

“Totally on-brand for ERG to back a truly useless Remainer who did nothing in govt except gabble with hacks cos she’s reassuringly mad behind the eyes,” Cummings tweeted.

Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser turned nemisis also claimed the PM quietly supported Truss’ campaign because he “knows she’s mad and thinks she’ll blow and he can make a comeback”.

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Opinion | Tory leadership candidates should be banned from evoking Thatcher

No pussy-bow blouses, no mention of the Falklands or talk of free market economics and balancing the books. This type of behaviour must carry tough disincentives, like literal handbaggings for anyone who even tries to engage in these terrible impersonations.

We’ve had four Conservative prime ministers since Margaret Thatcher’s tenure at No 10 was brutally ended and, without wanting to sound insensitive, she died nearly a decade ago, in which time we’ve decapitated the party leader a further three times. We have also exited the EU, come through a global pandemic and are facing very high levels of inflation. Surely the Conservative Party has something better to offer than a rerun of 1979?

Salmah Shah calls for Tory candidates to stop dealing in Iron Lady nostalgia:

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Watch: Boris Johnson’s highs and lows as prime minister

The team at Independent TV has compiled the following review of Boris Johnson’s time at the top:

Boris Johnson’s highs and lows as prime minister

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Liz Truss pledges ‘immediate’ tax cuts

Liz Truss said she would “immediately” cut taxes if she beats Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister.

Setting out her agenda in the Daily Mail after securing a spot in the final round of the Tory leadership race, the foreign secretary said she wanted to make Britain an “aspiration nation”.

She wrote: “I will hit the ground running by immediately cutting taxes, growing our economy and unleashing the potential of everyone in the United Kingdom.

“This is a key part of my mission to build an aspiration nation, where people from all parts of Britain, from all backgrounds, can succeed on the basis of their talent and hard work alone.

“That is how I got to where I am today, and that is what I want for everyone in our country.”

Her opponent, the former chancellor, said he would cut taxes only once inlation was brought under control from its current 40-year high.

In the Mail article Ms Truss also said she would fight against “identity politics”, “cancel culture” and “people who talk down our country”.

She echoed Mr Sunak in saying she is the only one who can defeat Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party at an election.

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SNP accused of illegally spending taxpayer money on independence campaign

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has been accused at Westminster of “illegality” in spending British taxpayers’ cash on its campaign to “break up Britain”.

Public money has been used by the SNP administration to produce “party political propaganda” while neutral civil servants have been engaged in the bid for a second Scottish independence referendum, the House of Lords heard.

The criticism was levelled byTory Scotland Office minister Lord Offord of Garvel using lines from national poet Robert Burns to dismiss the SNP argument to for independence.

Lord Offord said: “This is thin gruel.

“As the bard said ‘Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware, That jaups in luggies’.”

Taken from Burns’s Address To A Haggis, it roughly translates as “Old Scotland wants no watery stuff, that splashes about in small wooden dishes.”

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Truss vs Sunak – and the choice of two very different futures for Britain

“A choice of two futures” is a slogan political parties often use in general election campaigns. Now, Conservative Party members must make such a choice, as they decide whether Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss will be our next prime minister (Andrew Grice writes).

The contest should finally resolve a split inside the Tories since the country’s decision to leave the EU six years ago left the party with an identity crisis. On the surface, the choice is between the fiscal responsibility offered by Sunak and the immediate tax cuts promised by Truss.

But this debate masks a more fundamental question: should Brexit Britain adopt the Truss vision to exploit its new freedoms by becoming a low-tax, low-regulation country which diverges from EU rules, with a “smaller state” – dubbed “Singapore-on-Thames” by Brexiteers? Or should it take the Sunak road: living within its means, balancing its books and recognising the growing demands on public services, not least from an ageing population?

“The party has a real choice; it’s a fork in the road moment,” one senior Tory MP told me. Another said: “This will now be a real battle of ideas.”

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Border Force ‘suboptimal’ and due for overhaul, review finds

Plans have been announced to overhaul Border Force as an independent review found it is performing at a “suboptimal level” and stretching its resources in an “unsustainable and highly inefficient way”.

The independent review, commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel to see how well it may respond to future challenges, named a range of issues with the organisation.

Despite a “dedicated, capable workforce”, the agency seems to be “less than the sum of its parts with significant systemic challenges”, the report found.

The review, by former Australian immigration minister Alexander Downer, said: “Overall, my impression of Border Force is an organisation which is performing at a suboptimal level.

“It appears to be struggling to get out of a cycle of crisis management, reacting to the last challenge and bracing itself for the next, regardless of how predictable the next challenge may be.

“Although Border Force is largely delivering what is required of it on a day-to-day basis, it does so by stretching its resources in an unsustainable and highly inefficient way.

Mr Downer said his review comes as Border Force is contending with “exceptional challenges”, including people coming to the UK illegally in small boats, immigration abuse, illegal drugs, firearms and organised crime, along with the need to protect national security.

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Mordaunt out as Sunak and Truss to battle it out for prime minister

The Conservative party is facing a brutal summer of vicious infighting, as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss slug it out for the keys to 10 Downing Street in what is expected to be the most tightly-fought leadership contest in decades (Andrew Woodcock writes).

There were appeals for the two contenders to succeed Boris Johnson to avoid “blue on blue” attacks on one another, amid Tory fears that a bloody battle will undermine efforts to restore public trust in the party.

The new prime minister will be chosen by an estimated 160,000 Conservative members, prompting calls for an immediate election after the new Tory leader is installed on 5 September to give all voters a say on who runs Britain.

Labour’s Conor McGinn said Tory members were being offered “two continuity candidates … both stooges of the Johnson administration whose fingerprints are all over the state the country finds itself in today”.

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Plan to tear up Brexit deal moves step closer to becoming law

Attempts to effectively tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit deal have moved closer to becoming law, as the government labelled it their “top legislative priority”.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill cleared the House of Commons after MPs voted 267 to 195, majority 72, to give it a third reading.

No amendments were made by MPs and Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis said he hopes supporters of the proposals in Northern Ireland “may not have to wait too long” for them to become law.

But peers are expected to contest parts of the bill when they consider it after the summer recess, setting up a lengthy showdown between the two Houses.

The protocol is aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland but has created a series of economic barriers on Irish Sea trade.

Boris Johnson’s government has said measures in the bill to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

The plans have been widely criticised by the EU while critics fear Britain’s international standing will suffer if it breaks an international agreement.

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