Truss v Sunak: how do Tory PM contenders differ on policy?

Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will become the next prime minister after Tory MPs put them into the final round of the Conservative leadership election.

Here we look at how they differ on key areas of policy:


Rishi Sunak

Sunak has promised “a return to traditional Conservative economic values”, a position seen variously as an appeal to instinctive Tory fiscal prudence, or a desire to return to “austerity economics”. When challenged with claims he was a “high tax chancellor”, he took aim at other candidates offering “comforting fairytales” rather than face the hard economic reality. He has said he aims to cut taxes but wants to tackle inflation first.

Liz Truss

Truss has pledged to reverse the national insurance rate rise, which was designed to fund health and social care. Her economic message has been based on low tax and low regulation, and she told the Spectator she would treat borrowing built up during the pandemic like a war debt to be written off over a long period.

Liz Truss: ‘My tax cuts will decrease inflation’ – video


Rishi Sunak

Sunak would set a new legal target for the UK to be energy independent by 2045 at the latest and has committed to maintaining the government’s legally binding goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and has assured the Tories’ green wing he would protect the environment.

Insiders say Sunak was resistant to spending money on climate measures when he ran the Treasury. He has, however, previously spoken out in support of net zero and made the case for a greener economy.

Liz Truss

Truss has committed to maintaining the government’s legally binding goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, but has said she would suspend green energy levies.

She is backed by the energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, who is relatively strong on renewable energy, and another backer, Vicky Ford, says she was very supportive of Cop26.


Rishi Sunak

The Sunak supporters Nick Gibb and Damian Hinds, both of whom have served as ministers in the Department for Education, laid out Sunak’s approach to schooling in a column in the Times. The education system will be “focused on excellence and delivering the skills and knowledge needed for the world of tomorrow”, they wrote. He plans to help the best multi-academy trusts to expand, and deliver on a commitment to establish high-quality post-16 specialist free schools outside London and the south-east.

Liz Truss

Truss has bemoaned the quality of the state school she attended, which critics swiftly pointed out occurred under Conservative governments, and has promised to give everyone “the same opportunities” so they are “able to know that the town they are born in has opportunity”.

Home affairs

Rishi Sunak

Sunak also supports the Rwanda removal scheme, though sources have briefed that he opposed it as chancellor over the £120m cost. He has promised a “crackdown on grooming gangs” and has pledged to create a requirement for all police forces to have a ringfenced child sexual exploitation team.

Liz Truss

Truss has reportedly said she would attempt to expand the Rwanda removal scheme to countries such as Turkey, and has called it “completely moral”.

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Levelling up

Rishi Sunak

Sunak picked up the endorsement of the Tory Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen, as well as a host of “red wall” MPs over his levelling up pledges. He has committed to maintaining a cabinet-level secretary of state for levelling up. Houchen said he was encouraged by Sunak’s interest in the levelling up agenda.

Liz Truss

Truss has also committed to continuing the levelling up agenda but added she would do this in a “conservative way”. Commentators have suggested this means a focus on tax cuts and deregulation, rather than high spending and investment.


Rishi Sunak

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” around Britain as one way of benefiting from Brexit. He has committed to a bonfire of EU laws that are “getting in the way” of British businesses.

Liz Truss

Truss was a remainer in the referendum campaign but has since become a keen convert to Brexit. She has led negotiations with Brussels over subsequent disagreements and is pushing new legislation that would unilaterally rewrite Britain’s post-Brexit commitments to the EU over Northern Ireland.


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