Robert Peston gives verdict on ‘astonishing’ Liz Truss change in leadership bid

Liz Truss sets out economic plans at LBC hustings

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ITV’s political editor gave his verdict on the Foreign Secretary following the first official hustings last night. Ms Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced a wide range of questions from Tory members in Leeds during the event.

Mr Peston said Ms Truss “connected with her audience” more than her rival Mr Sunak.

The journalist added that the Foreign Secretary has “found her voice” after looking “bewildered and lost” at the start of the contest to replace Boris Johnson.

Mr Peston tweeted: “At the Leeds hustings last night, Truss connected with her audience of Tory members more directly than Sunak, and was more relaxed.

“The improvement in her podium performances since the leadership contest started three weeks ago is astonishing.

“This can’t be just that she lived in Leeds as a child, and therefore feels on home turf, because his own Richmond constituency is only an hour up the road.

“Truss looked bewildered and lost at the start of the contest. She has found her voice.”

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak were quizzed separately on a vast array of policy areas on Thursday night in the race for the top job.

The event, hosted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, was the first of 12 sessions for the party faithful across the country to question the final two contenders, before voting for the next Tory leader and prime minister closes on September 2.

The two candidates kicked off the event by making speeches to the audience, with Ms Truss capitalising on her Yorkshire roots.

Referencing her upbringing in Leeds, Ms Truss said it was “fantastic” to be in her “old stomping ground”.

She also mentioned her relocation to Norfolk, the site of her constituency, and the fact she has become a supporter of Norwich City FC.

She said “I do want us to channel the spirit of Don Revie” – a former Leeds United and England manager – because “we need to win”.

Ms Truss added: “And, my friends, we can win against Keir Starmer, who is a patronising plastic patriot.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak said he was “having the time of my life” campaigning for the top job.

The former Chancellor acknowledged he was trailing Ms Truss in the polls, but vowed to fight for every vote.

He said: “We are going to have to appeal to swing voters in every part of our country.

“And I believe with all my heart that I am the person, I am the candidate, that gives our party the best opportunity to secure that victory.”

It comes as Ms Truss’s campaign was today given a major boost with an endorsement from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who blasted Mr Sunak for “walking out the door” of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet.

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