Truss to blast 'soft' Sunak for Russia and China relations amid tense leadership battle

The Foreign Secretary is set to portray herself as a “hawk” and Mr Sunak as a “dove” in order to broaden her appeal to the Tory members beyond her key tax cutting promise. A row has broken out between supporters of the two candidates with Ms Truss’ camp accusing the former Chancellor of being overly cautious in relation to sanctions with Russia.

They also argue that Mr Sunak is pressing for greater trade with China, it has been reported.

In the forthcoming leadership hustings Ms Truss is expected to emphasise her wide ministerial experience in contrast to Mr Sunak’s single-department Cabinet career.

However, Mr Sunak’s supporters point out that he pushed for tougher sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

They also claim that alleged Chinese human rights abuses cannot be ignored within the context of Anglo-Chinese relations.

Although many Tory MPs believe that Ms Truss has an unassailable lead amongst party members, her team is taking nothing for granted, the Telegraph has reported.

According to the broadsheet, they are concerned that Mr Sunak is the better media performer and may appear more statesmanlike and want to hit back by claiming that Ms Truss will be “ready from day one” to tackle the threats from China and Russia.

An ally of Ms Truss told the Daily Telegraph that she could develop a “leadership” role for Britain on the world stage.

They said: “Liz is the one who has the experience, the credibility and the resolve when it comes to Ukraine and China, which puts her at the hawkish end of the party, while Rishi is more at the dovish end. 

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“I don’t think Rishi is quite in that space – he still harks back to the ‘golden era’ of trade with China that David Cameron and George Osborne wanted, and has taken softer positions.

“On banking sanctions against Russia, the Treasury under Rishi was reluctant to move as quickly as Boris and Liz wanted.

“The Treasury was very backward-leaning when it came to banning Russian banks from the Swift system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).

“The default setting for the Treasury is to be cautious and only think about the maths, but sometimes you have to take tough decisions.

“There’s no point having a Prime Minister or a Chancellor who is just a spokesman for Treasury officials.”

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