Rishi Sunak slammed by GB News viewer that backs Truss
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Worried Tory MPs are praying for a more civilised set of exchanges tonight after the toxic attacks candidates aimed at each other in the last two debates. The two finalists will square off in an hour-long BBC debate at 9pm.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have faced each other a number of times in behind-closed-door hustings in recent days, but tonight will be the first time in over a week that they will be pitted against each other publicly.
Conservative MPs believe broadcasters are using the leadership contest for cheap TV views rather than to inform debate.
They were furious at the blue-on-blue attacks that emerged due to the formats of the ITV and Channel 4 programmes.
Ms Truss blamed the former Chancellor for putting Britain on course for a recession with his economic plan, while Mr Sunak asked his rival what she regretted more – having previously been a Liberal Democrat or having backed Remain in the 2016 referendum.
A frustrated MP told Express.co.uk last week: “I don’t know why we are doing this. It doesn’t help inform debate, it just makes us look divided.
“We’re playing to the media’s game, turning the whole thing into a circus and then we need to somehow put the party back together at the end of it all.
“We should be focused on membership hustings.”
Labour has capitalised on the fallout of the TV appearances, putting together a carefully edited video to highlight the divides within the party.
The Foreign Secretary and former Chancellor also face a further two TV debates in the coming days. Tory MPs fear the clashes will further help Labour.
The entire leadership contest so far has been characterised by bitter clashes.
Fresh attacks from the two rivals’ camps emerged over the weekend as the pair traded blows over their policies on immigration, China and tax cuts.
Mr Sunak described Beijing as the “biggest-long term threat to Britain” and pledged to get tough on tackling China.
However, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – who is backing Ms Truss – described the announcement as “surprising” before launching a personal assault on Mr Sunak.
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He said: “Over the last two years, the Treasury has pushed hard for an economic deal with China.
“This is despite China sanctioning myself and four UK parliamentarians.
“Despite China brutally cracking down on peaceful democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan, illegally occupying the South China Sea, committing genocide on the Uyghurs and increasing its influence in our universities.
“After such a litany, I have one simple question, where have you been over the last two years?”
Hoping to once against seize on the fallouts in tonight’s debate, Sir Keir Starmer will today accuse Ms Truss and Mr Sunak of failing to address the issues that impact Britons.
In a speech today, he will say: “You will see a clear contrast between my Labour Party and the Thatcherite cosplay on display tonight.
“The difference between a Labour Party ready to take Britain forward.
“And a Tory Party that wants to take us back into the past.”
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