PM hopefuls Truss and Sunak battle in trio of TV debates including The Sun’s showdown as Rishi looks to regain ground

MANDATORY CREDIT REQUIRED: Jonathan Hordle/ITV Handout photo issued by ITV of Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch taking part in Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate, a head-to-head debate between Conservative party leadership candidates. Picture date: Sunday July 17, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Mandatory credit must read: Jonathan Hordle/ITV/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

THE two candidates vying to be Prime Minister will go head-to-head three times this week — including HOAR’s blockbuster showdown tomorrow night.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak battle it out over questions from our readers just hours after a BBC debate in Stoke-on-Trent this evening.

The two candidates vying to be Prime Minister will go head-to-head three times this week

The telly showdowns come in a make-or-break week for the pair

And then the pair will face hundreds of true blue Tory members at the first official party hustings in Leeds — which is being streamed online — on Thursday night in gruelling back-to-back clashes.

The three telly showdowns come in a make-or-break week for the pair — as Conservative HQ starts mailing out ballot papers to 160,000 members next week.

Ahead of that, they spent the ­weekend bickering about tax, borders and who is toughest on China.

Ex-Chancellor Mr Sunak, who trails Foreign Secretary Ms Truss in the polls — by 38 per cent to 62 per cent — will get out a ­“policy bazooka” this week to try to prove he is the insurgent change ­candidate in the race.

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And Ms Truss will also today set out how she intends to jump-start Britain’s anaemic growth after days of sledging from Mr Sunak’s team over her “immoral” tax plans that he says will leave the country bankrupt.

Over the weekend, the pair clashed on immigration as Mr Sunak attempted to flash his right-wing credentials after hoovering up the support of moderate MPs in the early rounds of the leadership battle.

Both candidates have vowed to go ­further in the controversial Rwanda ­policy, with Ms Truss vowing to hike the size of Border Force.

Mr Sunak promised to do “whatever it takes” for the scheme to succeed.

But last night Team Truss said a plan floated by him to house asylum seekers on empty cruise ships would break international law.

Her supporters also claimed the idea would lead to the creation of prison ships in areas that are in desperate need of tourism and investment.

The candidates also continued their bickering over tax cuts.

Tory grandees claimed Margaret Thatcher would not have approved of cutting taxes to curb inflation

Mr Sunak wheeled out three Tory grandees — Chris Patten, Norman Lamont and Malcolm Rifkind — to claim Margaret Thatcher would not have approved of cutting taxes to curb inflation as proposed by Ms Truss.

But Truss supporter Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, rejected those concerns.

She told Sky News: “Well, I don’t know the basis on which they’re saying that — many of them were not in the original Margaret Thatcher Cabinet at the start when she took over in 1979.

“I’m not going to exchange comments with people who haven’t been in government for a very long time.”

Ms Truss, during a visit to party members in Kent, once again defended her plans for potentially £30billion of tax cuts, saying: “I think it is wrong to be taking money from people that we don’t need to take, when people across the country are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.”

Today, Ms Truss will set out some growth stimulating policies — including an idea to set up low tax enterprise zones dotted across Britain.

Mr Sunak trails Foreign Secretary Ms Truss in the polls — by 38 per cent to 62 per cent

Ms Truss defended her plans for potentially £30billion of tax cuts

She said: “As Prime Minister, I will be laser focused on turbocharging business investment and delivering the economic growth our country desperately needs.

“By creating these new Investment Zones, we will finally prove to businesses that we’re committed to their futures and incentivise them to stimulate the investment that will help deliver for hardworking people.”

Mr Sunak today will instead attempt to outflank the hawkish Ms Truss on the issue of China.

He will say that nation is the No1 threat to Britain’s security.

His new shift will see last year’s ­landmark defence review, which ­concluded that Russia posed the bigger threat to the UK, be sent back to the drawing board.

Ms Truss has also signalled that she is open to a review of the Integrated Review published in 2021 as she demands a multi-billion annual increase rise in defence spending, currently opposed by Mr Sunak.

Announcing a ban on a slew of Chinese language institutes that have links to the Beijing regime, he will say today: “China is the biggest-long term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security.

“For too long, politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China’s nefarious activity and ambitions.

“I will change this on Day One as PM. I will stop China taking over our universities, and get British companies and public institutions the cyber-security they need.

“And I will work with President Biden and other world leaders to transform the West’s resilience to the threat that China poses.”

Iain Duncan Smith Mr Sunak’s ‘”tough on China” announcement is surprising’

But Team Truss hit back, with supporter Iain Duncan Smith claiming: “This ‘tough on China’ announcement is surprising.

“After all, over the last two years, the Treasury has pushed hard for an ­economic deal with China.”

  • THE Sun’s Showdown: The Fight for No10 will be shown on all Sun ­platforms (, and TalkTV. Find TalkTV on Sky 526, Virgin Media 627, Freeview 237, Freesat 217 and Sky Glass 508 and live and on demand on the TalkTV app and at Talk.TV.