Sunak or Truss: What policies should we expect from our next prime minister?

Here are some of the policy pledges made by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss during the Tory leadership contest.

27 July 2022

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are battling it out to become the next Conservative leader.

Over the coming weeks, it will be up to Tory party members to decide which of the two candidates will be the next prime minister.

The pair have been engaged in bitter clashes over policy – including immigration, China and tax cuts – in their bid to secure the top job.

Here we look at their stances on key issues.

Conservative leadership bid
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss taking part in Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate (PA)

– Tax and spending

Rishi Sunak: The former chancellor has pitched himself as the fiscally conservative candidate and had criticised his rival’s plans to raise borrowing to pay for tax cuts as “comforting fairytales”.

He has promised to “deliver tax cuts that drive growth”, but to do so in a “way that’s responsible” and only “after we’ve got a grip of inflation”.

Mr Sunak branded plans by Ms Truss as “morally wrong” for passing debt onto the next generation.

But as he battled to make up ground on the Foreign Secretary, Mr Sunak pledged to temporarily scrap VAT on energy bills from October if the price cap rises above £3,000 as expected, saving households around £160 at a cost to the Exchequer of around £4.3 billion.

Liz Truss: The Foreign Secretary has pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one” with a new Budget and Spending Review that would reverse April’s rise in national insurance and next year’s corporation tax hike from 19% to 25%.

She has vowed to “simplify” taxes and ensure people are not penalised for caring for children or relatives.

She has not explained how she would pay for the £30 billion in tax cuts she has promised, but insists they “can be paid for within the existing fiscal envelope”.

Ms Truss has said that cutting taxes will help curb inflation.

Pitched as the cornerstone of her tax-cutting economic vision, Ms Truss has also unveiled plans to turn brownfield sites and other locations into “investment zones”, dubbed “full-fat freeports”.

– Immigration

Migrant Crisis
Protesters campaigning against plans to send migrants to Rwanda (Victoria Jones/PA)

Rishi Sunak: Has re-iterated his support for the Government’s controversial Rwanda asylum policy, saying he would do “whatever it takes” to get it up and running.

He has also unveiled a 10-point plan that includes the promise of a narrower definition of who qualifies for asylum compared to that offered by the European Convention on Human Rights, with enhanced powers to detain, tag and monitor illegal migrants.

Mr Sunak has promised to give Parliament control over who comes to the UK by creating an annual cap on the number of refugees accepted each year, albeit one that can be changed in the case of sudden emergencies.

Liz Truss: Also supports the Rwanda policy and has said that under her leadership it could be extended further, with partnerships with more countries and further return and resettlement agreements.

She has also said she will increase Border Force staff levels from 9,000 to 10,800 and double the Border Force Maritime staffing levels, while also bringing forward a strengthened UK Bill of Rights to provide a “sound legal basis” to tackle illegal migration.

– Identity politics

Rishi Sunak: Has criticised “trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language”. He has pledged a “manifesto for women’s right”, including opposing biological men being allowed to compete against women in sport, and guidance for schools on how they teach issues of sex and gender.

Liz Truss: Has previously shelved plans for an overhaul of gender recognition rules to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender.

– Brexit and Europe

Vote Remain and Vote Leave signs on a lamp post in Leeds
Vote Remain and Vote Leave signs on a lamp post in Leeds (PA)

Rishi Sunak: The Leave-voter has promised to scrap or reform all EU law or bureaucracy still on the statute book by the time of the next general election, and have initial recommendations on whether each law stays or goes within 100 days.

Liz Truss: Voted Remain but has since embraced Brexit and scooped up the backing of staunch Brexiteers in the party. Helped push through the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which critics say breaks international law.

Has vowed to review all EU laws retained after Brexit by the end of next year in a “red tape bonfire” if she becomes prime minister, and to scrap or replace those that are deemed to hinder UK growth.

Reportedly said she would seek to reform the European Convention on Human Rights but would be “prepared to leave” it.

– Law and order

Rishi Sunak: Criminals who refuse to attend court for their sentencing will face longer terms behind bars.

Police would be ordered to take tougher action to tackle “grooming gangs” and officers “must be fully focussed on fighting actual crime in people’s neighbourhoods,  and not policing bad jokes on Twitter”.

Liz Truss: She would order police to go “back to basics” and cut homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime by 20% by 2024 rather than investigating “Twitter rows and hurt feelings”, with league tables showing forces’ performances.

– Defence 

British soldiers on manoeuvres in the Tapa central military training area in Estonia during a Nato exercise
British soldiers on manoeuvres in the Tapa central military training area in Estonia during a Nato exercise (PA)

Rishi Sunak: Views the Nato target of 2% of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and notes it is set to rise to 2.5% “over time” but refuses to set “arbitrary targets”.

Liz Truss: Has pledged to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 and strengthen the intelligence services. She said the Government’s current plan to cut the size of the Army to 72,500 in 2025 is “up for review”.


Rishi Sunak: Has promised a “vaccines-style” taskforce to tackle NHS backlogs, calling dealing with the issue one of his top priorities.

Has plans to expand the network of specialist surgical centres and community diagnostics hubs in order to eliminate one-year NHS waiting times six months earlier than planned by September 2024, and to get overall numbers falling by next year.

Liz Truss: Agrees on the urgent need to deal with care backlogs, promising to she install a “strong” health secretary to solve the issue.

Has also said she is “completely committed” to current Government promises for NHS spending, despite her plans for tax cuts.

– Climate change and net zero

Rishi Sunak: Committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. He has pledged to keep the ban on building new onshore wind farms, but wants to introduce a legal target to make Britain energy self-sufficient by 2045 by overseeing a massive expansion in offshore turbines.

Liz Truss: Backs the net zero push, but would pause green levies on domestic energy bills, which could damage the target.

She says there is a strong case for lifting the ban on fracking and wants to move away from the EU’s habitat directive in favour of a stronger British biodiversity target.

– Foreign affairs

Rishi Sunak: Declaring China “the biggest-long term threat to Britain,” he has promised to close all 30 of Beijing’s Confucius Institutes in the UK and “kick the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) out of our universities”.

Liz Truss: “Helped lead the international response to increased Chinese aggression” as Foreign Secretary and “this will only continue when she becomes prime minister”, her campaign says.

– Housing and infrastructure

Rishi Sunak: Has vowed to improve housing stock and energy efficiency. He wants to scrap EU Solvency II rules to help investors put money into infrastructure assets.

Liz Truss: Would scrap what she calls “Stalinist” housing targets in favour of tax cuts and deregulation.

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