Conservative leadership: Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak policy guide

  • Published
Related Topics

Conservative MPs have narrowed the options for Boris Johnson's successor as party leader and prime minister to a choice of two candidates.

Either Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or former Chancellor Rishi Sunak will be named the winner in September, after a run-off vote among Tory party members.

The pair have set out some of their policies already and will continue to do so in the coming months - here is what we know so far.

Compare the candidates

Choose an issue that interests you or find out more about them

Tax & spending

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Says she will reverse the recent rise in National Insurance, which came into effect in April, and hold an emergency budget
  • Pledges to scrap a planned rise in corporation tax - set to increase from 19% to 25% in 2023
  • Would suspend what is known as the “green levy” - part of your energy bill that pays for social and green projects
  • Says she will pay for the cuts by spreading the UK's "Covid debt" over a longer period
  • Promises to change taxes to make it easier for people to stay at home to care for children or elderly relatives
  • Wants to create new “low-tax and low-regulation zones” across the country to create hubs for innovation and enterprise
  • Says she won’t cut public spending unless there is a way to do so that won’t lead to future problems
  • Would bring target of spending 2.5% of GDP on defence forward to 2026 and introduce a new target of 3% by 2030

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Promises to reduce taxes “once we’ve gripped inflation” – saying it is a matter of when not if
  • Pledges to cut basic rate of income tax by 1p in April 2024 and a further 3p by the end of the next Parliament
  • Also pledges to scrap 5% VAT rate on household energy for one year if the price cap on bills rises above £3,000 for the typical household
  • Says public sector pay deals should be decided by independent pay review bodies
  • As chancellor raised National Insurance by 1.25p in the pound to pay for health and social care but also raised the earnings level at which it starts to be paid to £12,570
  • Also announced plan to increase corporation tax from 19% to 25% in April 2023
  • Promises to maintain defence spending and says we should view current minimum level of spending 2% of GDP “as a floor, not a ceiling”

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Cost of living

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Plans an emergency budget to set out measures that would get the economy growing in order to fund public services and the NHS
  • Says she will tackle the crisis by putting money back into people’s pockets, such as by immediately reversing the National Insurance rise
  • Would suspend what is known as the “green levy” - part of your energy bill that pays for social and green projects
  • Promises to change taxes to make it easier for people to stay at home to care for children or elderly relatives
  • Supporters say she is also not ruling out offering further help
  • Says the Bank of England needs to do more to tackle inflation, arguing "we haven't been tough enough on the monetary supply" during a leadership debate

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Says getting control of inflation - the rate at which prices are rising - is the most pressing issue
  • Promises to focus on employment by making sure people have the skills they need for better paid jobs and to tighten rules on out-of-work benefits
  • Says the long-term solution to heating bills is improving insulation in people's homes and getting people the support to pay for that
  • Pledges to scrap 5% VAT rate on household energy for one year if the price cap on bills rises above £3,000 for the typical household
  • Promises more money to help with energy bills depending on the extent of price rises to be announced later this month, which will be paid for by government "efficiency savings"
  • As chancellor announced an “Energy Profits Levy” – a windfall tax for energy firms - to pay for support for pensioners, low-income households and people who get disability benefits
  • All households were also given a £400 grant for energy bills in addition to £150 council tax rebate previously announced

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Climate

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Says she will honour the goal of reaching net zero by 2050 and spoke of “accelerating our transition to net zero” at the COP26 climate summit
  • Would suspend what is known as the “green levy” - part of your energy bill that pays for social and green projects
  • Would review the ban on fracking
  • Says the UK needs to build more nuclear power stations and small modular nuclear reactors
  • Wants to protect wildlife and biodiversity better and would launch a new UK survey of wildlife to understand which species are endangered
  • As environment secretary, she cut subsidies for solar farms calling them “a blight on the landscape”

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Says he will honour the goal of reaching net zero by 2050
  • Says net zero targets need to be met through green energy and by increasing economic growth
  • Says politicians need to make sure they bring people with them, rather than going too hard or too fast on reducing emissions
  • Would reverse plans to scrap the ban on building new onshore windfarms but start to expand the offshore wind programme
  • Would introduce a legal target to make the UK energy self sufficient by 2045 - and try to beat it
  • While he was in the Treasury, he was accused of blocking green policies that had spending implications
  • Before COP26 climate summit, he promised to make the UK the “first ever net zero aligned global financial centre”

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Brexit

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Argues she can be trusted with Brexit despite voting Remain in the 2016 referendum
  • Responsible for introducing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which could override parts of the post-Brexit deal between the UK and the EU
  • Promises to scrap or replace by the end of 2023 EU laws deemed to hold back the economy

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Campaigned to leave the EU in the referendum
  • Has criticised the way the NI Protocol - part of the UK's post-Brexit deal with the EU - is operating as posing enormous challenges to "the stability of the situation in the nation"
  • Committed to reforming all EU laws and bureaucracy that are still in place, by the time of the next general election
  • Would scrap regulations on financial services that he says have been inherited from the EU to trigger growth in the sector similar to that seen in the 1980s
  • Would replace existing data protection rules (GDPR) to help UK technology firms innovate and public services share data to prevent crime

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Health & social care

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Says GP services need to be more accessible in order to reduce the pressures on hospital services
  • Says there should be more mental health support available in schools
  • Wants to encourage doctors who came out of retirement to help the NHS during the pandemic "to come back into the profession"

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Promises to accelerate NHS targets to cut waiting lists, eliminating one-year waiting times by September 2024 and getting overall numbers falling by next year
  • Would set up a "backlog taskforce" - modelled on the unit set up to roll out the Covid vaccine - to cut bureaucracy and waste, and drive reforms
  • Wants to introduce a temporary system of £10 fines for people who miss a GP or hospital appointment
  • Wants to offer more diagnostic services - such as MRI and CT scans - in repurposed empty High Street shops
  • Would speed up the approval process for clinical trials by creating a single approval service for UK trials
  • Wants to expand network of specialist surgical hubs that offer low complexity procedures such as knee, hip and cataracts operations

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Education

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Pledges to give every child “the best opportunity to succeed” wherever they are from and whatever their background
  • Would expand existing high-performing academy schools, and replace failing establishments with free schools
  • Promises parents more childcare around the school day and to widen the range of providers who accept government childcare entitlements
  • Wants to reform university admission procedures so students apply after getting their A-levels (or equivalent) rather than based on predicted grades
  • Says students receiving top grades should be automatically invited to apply to Oxford and Cambridge
  • Wants more mental health support available in schools
  • Says she wants schools to provide single sex toilets

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Says he would support the return of grammar schools and will open 75 new free schools
  • Will create a new British baccalaureate so pupils continue studying core subjects such as maths and English until they finish school at 18
  • Promises to phase out university degrees that do not improve "earning potential"
  • Wants to boost vocational training by improving technical colleges, strengthening their links with industry and giving them powers to award degrees
  • Pledges to strengthen guidance on sex and relationship education in schools so children are “shielded from inappropriate material”
  • Wants Ofsted inspectors to grade schools on their sports lessons

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Housing & planning

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Says she would end "Stalinist" housing targets - the government currently wants 300,000 homes built in England every year
  • Plans to create "opportunity zones" with tax cuts and deregulation, making it easier and quicker to build on brownfield sites
  • Wants to help first-time buyers by incorporating rental payments into mortgage assessments

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Says his planning policy motto will be: "Brownfield, brownfield, brownfield" – meaning homes should be built on previously developed plots in urban areas
  • Pledges to stop local authorities requesting changes to the boundaries of the green belt for development
  • Says the government should look at "modular building" – where homes are built flat-pack style and constructed on site
  • Promises to tackle "land-banking" - developers buying land but not building – by forcing developers to complete projects before they can get planning permission for other plots in the same area
  • Would give councils greater "compulsory purchase" powers to buy undeveloped land at a discount if it has not been built on quickly enough
  • Pledges an "infrastructure first guarantee" to ensure existing communities are not overwhelmed and there is enough school and GP capacity for new homes

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Profile

Profile image of Liz Trus

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary

  • Only the second woman to lead the Foreign Office, taking credit for securing the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Iran
  • Backers include Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and former leadership rival Penny Mordaunt
  • Served in cabinet posts under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson
  • Mocked for giving a speech at the 2014 Conservative conference on UK cheese imports
  • A former president of Oxford University Liberal Democrats, but joined the Conservatives in 1996
  • First elected in 2010 as MP for South West Norfolk

Read more about Liz Truss

Profile image of Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Former Chancellor

  • Was chancellor during the coronavirus pandemic, spending huge amounts to keep the economy afloat
  • Backers include Deputy PM Dominic Raab, new Health Secretary Steve Barclay and former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt
  • Worked in an investment bank and co-founded a hedge fund before entering politics
  • Reputation dented by a controversy over his wife's tax affairs and being fined for breaching lockdown rules
  • His mother and father moved to the UK from east Africa in the 1960s
  • Became an MP in 2015 - for the North Yorkshire constituency of Richmond

Read more about Rishi Sunak


Who will choose the winner?

The final two candidates will be trying to convince party members to back them at hustings events around the country between 28 July and 31 August. The ballot will close at 17:00 BST on 2 September with the winner due to be announced on 5 September.

The Conservative Party has not revealed exactly how many people are eligible to vote in the final stage of the contest but it is more than 160,000, or about 0.3% of the total UK electorate.

Research suggests that, like members of the other major parties, Tories tend to be older, more middle class and more white than the rest of the population.

Who did the final two beat?

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss reached the last round of the contest after a series of votes by Tory MPs reduced the field of contenders from eight to two.

The former chancellor had been in the lead in every round of voting and ended with 137 votes in the fifth and final ballot, but Ms Truss overtook Penny Mordaunt only in the final round to secure second place with 113 votes.

What is the leadership selection process?

The timetable for the Tory leadership race was confirmed by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of the party's backbench MPs after Mr Johnson announced he would be stepping down.

People putting themselves forward had to secure the backing of 20 Tory MPs - a higher threshold than in previous contests. Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Office minister Rehman Chishti, who had all announced they planned to run, failed to do so and dropped out.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi did not get the 30 votes from Tory MPs needed to progress from the first round of voting.

Attorney General Suella Braverman was eliminated after getting the fewest votes in the second round, while Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch were eliminated in the third and fourth rounds respectively.