Rishi Sunak insists he would prefer to lose Tory leadership race than win on a false promise… as photos reveal he donned a well-worn pair of shoes for latest hustings

  • Rishi Sunak has been trailing Liz Truss in the polls to replace Boris Johnson as PM
  • He told Tory Party members he wanted to restore ‘integrity and honesty’ at No 10
  • He said his rival’s tax cutting plan will not help Britons with the the cost of living
  • Mr Sunak said inflation had to fall before tax rates could be safely reduced  

Rishi Sunak has said he would rather lose the race to become prime minister while sticking to his values than ‘win on a false promise’.

In a thinly veiled swipe at opponent Liz Truss, the former chancellor said he hasn’t ‘been saying the easy things’ and instead fighting for what he ‘passionately’ believes is best for the UK.

Mr Sunak has found himself trailing the Foreign Secretary heavily in the polls in recent weeks.

But in an appeal to the Tory membership, he said he wants to restore ‘integrity and honesty’ at the heart of No 10, while suggesting Miss Truss’ tax-cutting agenda will not help Britons struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Tory Party leadership candidate Rishi Sunak pictured at a hustings event in Darlington, was as sharp-dressed as ever

Tory Party leadership candidate Rishi Sunak pictured at a hustings event in Darlington, was as sharp-dressed as ever

Though photographers found that the millionaire former chancellor was wearing a pair of shoes with a considerable hole in the sole

Though photographers found that the millionaire former chancellor was wearing a pair of shoes with a considerable hole in the sole

‘There has been a breakdown in trust because of the issues of the last several months and part of why I’m sitting here is because I want to restore trust back into politics,’ he told the BBC’s Nick Robinson.

‘As you can see in this leadership contest, I’ve been doing that – I haven’t been saying the easy things, and actually, I’m prepared to lose this contest if it means that I’ve been true to my values and I’m fighting for the things that I think are right for this country. I’d rather lose on those terms, than win by promising false things that I can’t deliver.

‘I knew what I was doing when I got into this and I was going to tell people what I think they needed to hear, not necessarily what they wanted to hear.

‘I would rather lose having fought for the things that I passionately believe are right for our country and being true to my values than win on a false promise.’

Mr Sunak has been far less hawkish than his opponent on cutting taxes to ease the cost-of-living squeeze, saying inflation needs to come down first. He suggested Miss Truss’s economic policies were not the ‘moral thing to do’ and ‘largely benefit very large companies’.

Mr Sunak suggested his own ‘honest’ rhetoric throughout the campaign is backed up by his record as chancellor, including his resignation from Boris Johnson’s government. Mr Sunak said his time in No 11, especially during the pandemic, means he is the best candidate to immediately deal with Britain’s economic woes – especially compared to the ‘starry-eyed boosterism’ promised by Miss Truss.

He added: ‘What we need is someone who actually understands what’s going on, has got a clear sense of how to manage our economy through what is going to be a challenging time.’ However, Mr Sunak was accused by fellow Tory MPs of ‘childish’, ‘crass’ and ‘pathetic’ behaviour over an online stunt attacking Miss Truss. His team created a spoof website mocking his rival’s economic policy, called Not In Your Interest.

But Southend West MP Anna Firth said: ‘This is beneath you Rishi Sunak… Remember we Conservatives need to come together after this.’

Home Office Minister Kevin Foster said: ‘This kind of negative attack just shows desperation and is unbecoming of anyone who aspires to lead our great party.’

Backbencher Marcus Fysh said: ‘This is just childish misrepresentation and scaremongering. If his campaign behaviour is going to be so pathetic Rishi should just end it and get behind the next PM.’

A source close to the Truss campaign said the website stunt ‘reeks of desperation’.

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