Who won the Tory leadership debate? Read our writers’ verdicts on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss faced each other in a fiery debate on Monday night, clashing over everything from tax policies to TikTok. 

Below, our writers offer their verdicts on what happened – and who came out on top:

Iain Dale: Sunak was so dominant it often came across as mansplaining

Sometimes the person who wants something the most is the person who prevails. 

Rishi Sunak came out of the traps firing on all cylinders, barely allowing Liz Truss to get in a word edgeways in the discussion on inflation and growth. Unfortunately, he was so dominant, it often came across as domineering mansplaining.

The trouble is, Ms Truss had few believable answers. Cut a tax here, cut a tax there, borrow a bit more here, don’t pay any of it back for three years. This is the antithesis of “sound money” Thatchernomics, a point Sunak drove home well. 

Truss then called Faisel Islam ‘Fayzell’ twice, before falling into Sunak’s trap of using the phrase “Project Fear”, allowing him to point out that it was she in the Brexit referendum who was part of “Project Fear”.

Her rather limp reply of “perhaps I have learned from that”, was just that – limp. However, she did improve.

But Sunak was on fire. No one watching this debate could surely come to any other conclusion that Sunak would be the better prime minister. 

There are many questions Tory members need to ask themselves, but can any of them truly believe that Truss is more likely to win an election than Sunak? If they do think that, their powers of self-delusion are far greater than mine.

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