RISHI Sunak and Liz Truss have both been in Herefordshire as the end of the Conservative Party leadership race nears.

The North Herefordshire Conservatives said it and MP Sir Bill Wiggin were delighted to welcome the prime ministerial candidates to Ledbury.

The group said it "recognises the importance of the large Conservative membership base in Herefordshire" as the next Tory leader is expected to be announced by September 5.

Speaking to capacity audiences at Ledbury Rugby Club this week, the two Conservative leadership contenders took the opportunity to address members and answer a number of searching questions.

The group also said the candidates, who have both served in outgoing Prine Minster Boris Johnson's cabinet, outlined their different approaches to taxation and tackling the cost of living.


During a similar event in Ludlow on Wednesday, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Sunak spoke first, joking that people often said to him: "Wow, you're even shorter in real life."

In a speech and a question and answer session taking in broad topics, he pledged to cut taxes, boost growth and help families hit by the cost of living.

Introducing Mr Sunak – and later Ms Truss – Ludlow MP Philip Dunne revealed an unofficial poll he had carried out on the race for Number 10 had 34 per cent backing Mr Sunak, 33 per cent supporting Ms Truss and 33 per cent undecided.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss promised to hike defence spending, boost pupils' school attainment, "slim down" quangos and "challenge Treasury orthodoxy" with more investment outside big cities.

Describing herself as a "straight-talking Yorkshire woman", she also said "I know a woman is a woman", raising a chuckle from her audience.

She replied: "People are laughing. There's people in Whitehall who don't believe that."

Referring to rail strikes, Ms Truss said she was "on the side of the 95 per cent who get the train to work – not the train drivers, who are paid more than £50,000 per year".

She vowed to "reverse the rise in national insurance" while protecting the beneficial effect the rise had for some of the lowest paid workers.

Asked about pensions payments, she replied: "I assure you, I am absolutely committed to the triple lock (on pensions)."


After the speeches, with Tory members emerging into the Shropshire sunshine, one woman said: "She (Ms Truss) was very good today, but she made an awful lot of promises."

A male party member said: "I am pleased I came – I was one of the floating voters.

"I am probably going to go for Mr Sunak because, in the end, the economy is the most important thing and I trust him on that."

Another said: "I think they were both very good – I hope that one of them becomes prime minister, and that the other is in the cabinet."

Asked which way he would vote, he replied with a smile: "I can't tell you that."

Another member, walking back to his car, turned and replied: "Not at the minute. Still undecided."

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