Ex-Finance Minister Sunak and Foreign Minister Truss clashed in the TV debate on Sunday evening. The sharpness of their discussion has raised concerns within the party. The consequence: After both canceled their participation in the next debate, it is now completely canceled.
The third televised debate of candidates to succeed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been canceled after ex-Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss withdrew. MPs from the ruling Tories are concerned that the TV debate and the differences of opinion that have emerged could damage the party's reputation, according to a statement by the Sky News broadcaster. The five remaining contestants - Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat - were supposed to go head-to-head in the final of three televised debates on Sky News on Tuesday night.
In the two previous TV debates, the candidates had clashed violently, especially on the subject of tax cuts. Ex-Finance Minister Sunak, for example, accused the incumbent Foreign Minister Truss of having voted against Brexit, criticized her earlier engagement with the Liberal Democrats and her stance on tax policy. In return, Truss accused Sunak of having led the UK into recession by raising taxes as finance minister.
Earlier, blogger Paul Goodman of the ConservativeHome website strongly criticized the TV debates, questioning why MPs agreed to "throw buckets of manure at each other" and criticize the government's record, which they - with one exception - themselves belonged. The candidates for Johnson's successor compete against each other in several rounds of voting until it is determined on Wednesday which two candidates will go into the runoff.
The choice of Johnson's successor is up to Tory party members. On September 5, the new party leader is to be named, who will then also take over the post of Prime Minister from Johnson. The next vote should start this Monday evening; it was expected that Tugendhat would receive the fewest votes and be eliminated.
Johnson was forced to resign as party leader on July 7 by an internal party revolt against his much-criticized leadership, which also meant the end of his government office. However, he intends to remain in office until a successor is appointed.