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Thatcher’s legacy looms large in the race to replace Boris Johnson as British Prime Minister


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The race to succeed Boris Johnson and lead Britain’s Conservative Party to become the country’s next prime minister is on edge, with the two candidates clashing in a sometimes heated debate on Monday night.

The last two candidates standing are the country’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak, the former treasury chief who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government last month.

The contest has mainly revolved around taxes and the economy in the post-COVID world, as well as immigration and shipping in the waters of the post-Brexit era.

During Monday’s televised debate, Sunak had more to prove, but it was Truss who pounced on his record, stating, “Rishi, you just put in place the highest tax increases in 70 years. How the hell can you claim that’s going to lead to economic growth, and where have the growth policies been for the last two and a half years?”

This combination of file photos shows the remaining candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
(AP Photo, File)

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Sunak defended his position, stating, “Let fiscal responsibility slide…it will lead us straight into hardship.” Inflation and the high cost of living have also been at the forefront of the candidates’ agendas.

Sunak said the country needed to “get inflation under control,” warning that if that wasn’t done now, mortgage rates would rise to 7%. He also said that millions of people will be pushed into poverty and that will mean the Conservative Party will have no chance of winning the next election.

Truss, who is leading in the polls, wanted to know why she would support raising taxes during this economic slowdown. Truss bested his rival, said Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Liberty.

“Rishi Sunak, being the former foreign minister, seemed too eager and too pushy, constantly interrupting and it was not a good look for Mr Sunak,” Gardiner said.

Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss is applauded by her team near Parliament in London, Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss is applauded by her team near Parliament in London, Wednesday, July 20, 2022.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Sunak interrupted Truss 22 times in the first 12 minutes of the debate, drawing criticism from members of the Conservative Party, and perhaps showing why he is behind Truss.

Gardiner continued, “She sounds like someone who finds herself in an increasingly desperate position and the debate certainly reflected that…this was a calm, authoritative performance from Liz Truss.”

During the campaign, both Sunak and Truss claimed to be former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s heirs, but Gardiner said that title only belongs to one of them.

In this 1980 file photo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher poses for a photograph in London.  During the campaign, both Sunak and Truss claimed to be former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's heirs, but Gardiner said that title only belongs to one of them.

In this 1980 file photo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher poses for a photograph in London. During the campaign, both Sunak and Truss claimed to be former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s heirs, but Gardiner said that title only belongs to one of them.
(AP)

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“Liz Truss is definitely a Thatcherite. She is a huge admirer of Margaret Thatcher and her political views are heavily influenced by Thatcherism. In contrast, Rishi Sunak is not an heir to Margaret Thatcher.”

Gardiner, who was an adviser to Lady Thatcher, told Fox News Digital that: “Many of his policies are antithetical to Thatcherite ideas. Sunak’s record as chancellor where he raised taxes significantly, spent a lot of government money , Margaret Thatcher have been dismayed. Sunak is not Thatcher, Liz Truss can make a strong case for being a politician following in Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps.”

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According to Gardiner, it seems increasingly likely that Truss will win when the results are announced in early September, but he said that if Sunak were to return, he would have to “reverse some of his political positions and shift significantly to the right in his campaign, but I don’t think Conservative voters are convinced that she will change her position, and I think that, at the moment, Liz Truss is on a dominant political trajectory and is very likely to be the next prime minister.”

The deadline for all Conservative Party members to vote is September 2, with the results expected to be published three days later. The winner will replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s new prime minister. Elections are not due until 2025, and recent polls show the left-leaning Labor Party leading by six points.



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