Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will become the next prime minister after Tory MPs put them in the final round of the conservative leadership election.
Here’s a look at how they differ in key policy areas:
Sunak has promised “a return to traditional conservative economic values”, a position variously seen as an appeal to the Tory’s instinctive fiscal prudence, or a desire to return to “austerity economics”. When challenged with claims of being a “high tax chancellor,” he turned to other candidates who offered “comforting fairy tales” rather than face harsh economic realities. He has said he wants to cut taxes but tackle inflation first.
Truss has pledged to roll back the increase in national insurance, which was intended to fund health and social care. Her economic message was based on low taxes and low regulation, and she told the Spectator that she would treat loans accrued during the pandemic as a war debt to be written off over a long period of time.
Sunak would set a new legal target for the UK to become energy independent by 2045 at the latest and has committed to upholding the government’s legally binding goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and has assured the Tories’ green wing that he would protect the environment.
Insiders say Sunak was resistant to spending money on climate action when he ran the treasury. However, he has previously spoken out in favor of net zero and advocated a greener economy.
Truss has committed to upholding the government’s legally binding goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, but has said she would suspend tariffs on green energy.
She is backed by the energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, who is relatively strong in renewables, and another lender, Vicky Ford, says she was very supportive of Cop26.
Sunak supporters Nick Gibb and Damian Hinds, who have both served as education ministers, outlined Sunak’s approach to education in a Times column. The education system will “be focused on excellence and delivering the skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow’s world,” they wrote. He plans to help the best multi-academy trusts grow and adhere to a commitment to establish high quality post-16 specialist free schools outside of London and the South East.
Truss has complained about the quality of the state school she attended, which critics have been quick to point out took place under conservative governments, and has pledged to give everyone “the same opportunities” so they “are able to know that the city in which they were born has opportunities”.
Sunak also supports the Rwanda expulsion scheme, although sources have informed that he opposed it as chancellor due to the £120 million cost. He has pledged a “crackdown on grooming gangs” and pledged to require all police forces to have a shielded child sexual exploitation team.
Truss has reportedly said she would try to extend the Rwanda removal scheme to countries like Turkey, calling it “completely moral”.
Sunak gained the approval of the mayor of the Tory Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, as well as a host of “red wall” MPs over his leveling commitments. He has committed to maintain a cabinet-level secretary of state for the leveling. Houchen said he was encouraged by Sunak’s interest in the leveling agenda.
Truss has also committed to continuing to level the agenda, but added that she would do so in a “conservative manner”. Commentators have suggested that this means a focus on tax cuts and deregulation, rather than high spending and investment.
Sunak came out early for Brexit in the run-up to the referendum. He has reportedly backed proposals on the “Northern Ireland Protocol” and, as Chancellor, promoted “freeports” in Britain as a way to take advantage of Brexit. He has committed to a bonfire of EU laws that “get in the way” of British businesses.
Truss was a holdover in the referendum campaign, but has since become an avid convert to Brexit. She led negotiations with Brussels over subsequent disagreements and is pushing for new legislation that would unilaterally rewrite Britain’s post-Brexit commitments to the EU on Northern Ireland.