Who won the latest round of the Tory hustings in Exeter? We've scored Truss and Sunak's key quotes

Who won the latest round of the Tory hustings in Exeter? We've scored Truss and Sunak's key quotes
Truss says she would ignore 'attention-seeker' Sturgeon over Indyref2

The news channels might have finished with their debates, but Tory leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are still making their case to Conservative Party members, as Monday night saw the pair take part in the second members’ hustings in Exeter.

It follows one held in Leeds on Thursday, and is just one of 12 hustings being held with Tory members before the new leader – and thus, our next prime minister – is announced on 5 September.

Yes, we really do have another month of this before we’re put out of our misery.

Speaking of pain, the Financial Times’ Whitehall editor Sebastian Payne hosted the hustings, so that’s rather fitting.

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But perhaps more importantly, who out of the two Tories came out on top at the end of it all?

Liz Truss

The foreign secretary had a boost to her campaign last night when the third-place candidate, trade minister Penny Mordaunt, expressed her support of the pork markets backer.

“I’ve seen enough to know who the person I’m going to put my faith in is – and that’s Liz Truss. She, for me, is the hope candidate,” she said.

“I know a woman is a woman. I will protect single-sex spaces” – 2/10

Ms Truss also said Labour MP Rosie Duffield – who has been accused of making several “transphobic” remarks – is the opposition member she most respects because she “stood up” and said “women are women”.

At this point, we’d like to remind the Conservative leadership candidates that there is a cost of living crisis, a war in Ukraine and an ongoing climate emergency, just to put things in perspective in a way which makes it clear there are far more important issues to discuss.

“I will channel the spirit of the Lionesses” – 4/10

If by that Ms Truss means she’ll go viral for being silly in a serious press conference, then honestly, that’s not completely out of the question.

“We need spades in the ground before the next election” – 5/10

This was more of a comment about policies taking “less time under [her] government”, but we like the idea that the spades in question are actually digging her party’s grave.

“I’m prepared to crack eggs to make an omelette” – 2/10

Good to know that Ms Truss isn’t afraid of doing the main thing you need to do in order to make an omelette.

The remark was made when she said she “wouldn’t want to give them advance warning” when she was asked if the Treasury should be broken up, which is, again, an excellent policy decision to hint at amid a cost of living crisis.

“The best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore her. She is an attention seeker – that is what she is” – 1/10

We can’t say we’re a fan of ignoring a democratically elected leader of a country – least of all Scotland – when you’re trying to maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom, Liz.

So much for running a “positive” campaign…

Her answer to whether there should be a second referendum on Scottish independence was pretty clear: “No, no, no.”

Rishi Sunak

The former chancellor, who pretty much kicked this whole thing off when he resigned from his position last month, then had his opportunity to explain why he should succeed Boris Johnson – the man who was, until very recently, his boss.

“At the crunch moments, where was I? I supported change and I supported Brexit. I believed in my principles then and I believe in my principles now” – 4/10

We can’t say we trust Mr Sunak too much on principles when he was also fined for attending a party during lockdown.

We can’t trust his claim that he’s the “change” candidate either, when he didn’t leave much of that in our pockets as chancellor…

“I want to improve the conduct of government – that is the change I want to bring as prime minister” – 2/10

And that’s why Tory members should elect a man who served as chancellor in Mr Johnson’s government and therefore isn’t exactly the cleanest break from his turbulent premiership.

Also, see our previous comments on Partygate.

“All of you are forking out £5 million a day on hotels for people who are coming here illegally and that has to stop” – 1/10

How dare we treat individuals fleeing violence and persecution with compassion!

“It wasn’t just me … 60 others resigned” – 3/10

A little more Shaggy than Sunak, the former chancellor makes the political equivalent of denying you started a food fight in the school canteen because other students joined in.


We don’t support the policies of either, but while Ms Truss offered up several exaggerated metaphors and similes, Mr Sunak at least tried to ground us in reality with some more straight-forward responses to the questions put to him.

It may not scream “aspirational” – a word which both candidates have deployed during the contest – but we’ll take it over someone who essentially spent her time on the podium stating she would ignore Scotland’s first minister and stoking a pointless culture war about women’s rights.

We wish we could ignore the hustings, but someone’s got to let you all know what nonsense the rivals are throwing out there as part of their bid to become Tory party leader.

You’re welcome.

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