UK PM contenders clash over tax in TV debate

STORY: Former finance minister, Rishi Sunak, who has emerged as the favorite among the 358 Conservative lawmakers, said there would be a cost to cutting taxes, which could risk Britons incurring higher inflation and increased mortgage rates.

"This 'something for nothing' economics isn't conservative. It's socialism," he said.

Another frontrunner, current foreign secretary Liz Truss, responded by arguing that Britain is headed toward a recession because of Sunak's tax increases during his time as finance minister.

"It's taking money out of people's pockets," she said.

When asked if they would be happy to have Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said he would step down as leader on July 7, serve in their cabinet, all of the candidates failed to raise their hands.

Whoever gets the job will take on rocketing inflation and low economic growth, as well as the public's lack of confidence in politics after Johnson's scandal-ridden time in power. Opinion polls also suggest the Conservatives are falling significantly behind the opposition Labour Party.

Although a Sunday Telegraph poll showed Sunak ahead, the race remains wide open as Truss has broad support, including from those most loyal to Johnson, while junior minister Penny Mordaunt has topped surveys of the 200,000 party members who will ultimately choose who becomes Conservative leader and therefore prime minister.

Meanwhile former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat, chair of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, have also both outdone their rivals in other surveys.

One candidate will be knocked out every day in the next three days, leaving a final two to face the verdict of Conservative Party members. They will vote for the winner who will be announced on Sept. 5.

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