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The more we watch of the ongoing Conservative Party leadership contest, the more we feel like there’ll be no winners from this sorry affair, only losers. Unfortunately, former chancellor Rishi Sunak constantly interrupting rival candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss is the latest example.
The pair were staring down a camera in Stoke-on-Trent on Monday night in the latest televised leadership debate – this time on the BBC and hosted by Sophie Raworth.
They even had their political and economic editors – Chris Mason and Faisal Islam – watching in the corner like two excitable schoolboys.
But arguably the most animated person in the room was Mr Sunak, as he opted for intervening in Ms Truss’ replies when she was trying to answer questions.
The one thing we’ve been desperate for a politician to do for many years now, Rishi, and you’re stopping them from doing that, for goodness’ sake.
It began with Ms Truss explaining she would pay off the cost of Covid in three years’ time, and that she wasn’t “putting it on the never never” – comments which sparked an interjection from Mr Sunak that “that’s simply not right”.
So bad was all the crosstalk that a spokesman for Ms Truss used it as proof Mr Sunak “is not fit for office”.
He said: “His aggressive mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour is desperate, unbecoming and a gift to Labour.”
Even “liberal” LBC host James O’Brien took issue with the former chancellor’s approach when he gave his thoughts on his Tuesday morning programme, telling listeners: “To coin a popular modern phrase, I thought he was ‘bossing it’, and then I realised as it went on he was actually bossing her. He was trying to boss Liz Truss about.
“As it went on, I felt that he was quite condescending and even perhaps a little bit bullying, both towards Liz Truss and … Sophie Raworth.”
\u201c'Having just criticised Rishi Sunak for being a bully, this may lead me into hypocritical territory, but I find absolutely everything about Liz Truss awful.'\n\nJames O'Brien's post-match analysis of Monday's Tory leadership debate.\n\n@mrjamesob\u201d
“I began to feel a little bit uncomfortable at times, and that surprised me because I thought Rishi Sunak was quite mouthy and meek, and yet, that dreadful word ‘mansplaining’ kept popping up in my mind.”
After describing “the gap between the content of what [Ms Truss] was saying and the way in which she sought to deliver it” as “absolutely enormous”, Mr O’Brien went on to add he would “not be surprised” if listeners warmed to Ms Truss more than they did previously.
“But not because of what Liz Truss did – ironically enough – but because of what Rishi Sunak did,” he said.
And the broadcaster wasn’t the only one to use “bully” to describe Mr Sunak’s behaviour on Monday night:
\u201cShocked by the interruptions, this kind of behaviour just puts ordinary ppl off politics. Lets hear you both, we are adult enough to make our own decisions. Members aren\u2019t fools, we balance our businesses & households daily. No need to patronise your opponent in this manner.\u201d
— Dr Anwara Ali MBE (@Dr Anwara Ali MBE)
\u201c@GuidoFawkes I was shocked at how rude he was, I'd not seen him like that before. Sophie should have curtailed him more (she did use his full name once, that worked!!). He seemed to realise his errors and improved in the second half.\u201d
\u201c@GuidoFawkes @AmandeepBhogal His mask slipped yesterday. Mr Nice Guy was just an act. Imagine working with this bully. You can see that he absolutely has it in him to be a backstabbing schemer.\u201d
\u201c@GuidoFawkes Talk about free speech!!! What an utter Bully!!! Why not stop and listen to someone first, Rishi, without steamrolling all over them!!! Right or wrong, have some manners. You are being watched by the people!!\u201d