July 25, 2022

What British Prime Minister candidates say about Russia, Ukraine and the economy

By Azlyrics

The main disputes between the candidates are not caused by Ukraine, but by tax policy. Truss promises a sharp tax cut, the former head of the Ministry of Finance Sunak is against it. The head of the Foreign Ministry is more popular in the party, although economists criticize her program =”What British Prime Minister candidates say about Russia, Ukraine and the economy” />

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

According to the results of the Conservative Party vote in the UK Parliament, two main contenders for the post of party leader and prime minister were determined— former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Minister Liz Truss. 200,000 party members will decide who will head the new government during the voting. The results will be announced on September 5.

Positions of candidates for the post of British Prime Minister in relation to Russia, Ukraine, the economy, Brexit and domestic politics— in RBC material.

About Russia

Both Rishi Sunak and his opponent were in the government of Boris Johnson and condemned the special operation in Ukraine, advocating the imposition of sanctions against Moscow.

“Putin's invasion”— it is a dangerous calculation that democracies are divided, politically weak and economically insecure, incapable of making tough long-term decisions to strengthen our economy. This calculation— error»,— Sunak spoke in the British Parliament.

Truss, who is the head of the British Foreign Office, by virtue of her position spoke much more often about Russia and the Russian authorities. During the campaign, she vowed to “continue to lead the free world forward by standing up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.” She also promised to “siege” Russian leader in case of a trip to the G20 summit in November.

On the conflict in Ukraine

In an interview with The Sun, Sunak promised that if elected prime minister, the first will make an official visit to Kyiv. “I will strengthen our policy of full support for Ukraine, which Boris [Johnson] has so skillfully carried out,” — he said.

He promised “without hesitation” to provide Ukraine with additional assistance that will not only “counter the Russian offensive” but also “reverse it.”

Truss opposes a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine, saying that Kyiv needs a victory". Ukraine should receive the maximum amount of assistance from Western countries, she said and noted that London is one of the leaders in terms of the scale of military support to Kyiv.

The head of the British Foreign Office supported the British, who are taking part in the conflict in Ukraine. Mirror noted that this directly contradicts the government's recommendation not to travel to the conflict zone.


The British government of Boris Johnson, which included both Sunak and Truss, after the start of the special operation, imposed several packages of sanctions against Russia that affected the financial system, including the largest banks, exports and imports of a wide range of products, businessmen and politicians.

Sunak oversaw the sanctions policy in the government and said that the restrictive measures “demonstrate an unwavering determination to impose the highest costs on Russia and cut it off from the international financial system as long as this conflict persists,” writes the BBC. But in an interview with Sky News, he said that the sanctions “will not cost the British free”; and warned of “hard times.”

Truss also advocates tough sanctions against Russia. In addition, she called on the European Union to follow the example of London and Washington to abandon oil and gas from Russia. In the EU, this topic caused controversy, Brussels agreed on a partial ban on oil supplies, but the EU countries could not agree on stopping gas exports.


Sunak voted for the UK to leave the EU. He advocates the abolition of the remaining regulations from the days of the European Union until the next elections, which should be held no later than January 2025. Truss advocated keeping Britain in the EU, but later said her position had changed. She promised to abolish European norms faster than her opponent.

Sunak, in one of his campaign speeches, reminded Truss of her position on leaving the EU. “If we are to deliver on the Brexit promise, we will need someone who really understands Brexit, believes in Brexit, and voted for Brexit,” — quoted Sunak by the Express newspaper.


Sunak and Truss advocate tougher migration policies. According to the BBC, 14,000 illegal migrants arrived in Britain across the English Channel this year.

Sunak— descendant of immigrants from India. The campaign video mentions his grandmother, who moved to Britain in the 1960s. At the same time, the former head of the Ministry of Finance advocates strengthening control at the border and supports an agreement with Rwanda on the deportation of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers there.

Truss also considers the agreement correct. “I am determined to bring it [the agreement] to full implementation, as well as to consider other countries with which we can work in similar partnerships. That's right, — she told the Mail.

In April, the UK signed an agreement with Rwanda, according to which London plans to send illegal migrants and asylum seekers to the African country. The agreement provides for a payment of £120 million to Rwanda. The UN condemned the agreement, and the first flight with illegal immigrants to Rwanda was canceled by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.


Sunak refrained from promising to cut taxes quickly as prime minister, but said he would do so “responsibly.” “Because I don't cut taxes to win elections, I win elections to cut taxes,” he told BBC Radio. Reuters notes that under Sunak, the British Treasury began a course for a record tax increase since the 1950s. His main task as prime minister is to fight inflation, which could reach 11% this year.

Truss, on the other hand, is in favor of lowering taxes to help the population in conditions of high cost of living. She proposed to cancel the increase in the social security fee, which was approved in April. She is also opposed to raising the corporate tax because she considers it “vital” to attracting investments to the country.

In addition, Truss advocates a tighter monetary policy and has proposed revising the powers of the Bank of England, which is now independent and is working to reduce inflation to a target of 2%.

Ben Nabarro, British economist at Citi, believes that political the Truss program “poses the greatest risk from an economic point of view due to the unseemly combination of tax cuts and institutional destruction.”

Robert Joyce of the Institute for Financial Studies think tank thinks Truss' pledges (totaling $36 billion) will have implications beyond the tax system. “They will almost certainly mean an increase in borrowing or a reduction in government spending, or a combination of both,” — Joyce said. “After all, lower taxes mean lower costs,” — he explained.

Former Permanent Secretary of the Treasury Nick McPherson believes that Truss's tax cut proposals are more like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who fired the central bank's leadership, which failed to enforce its chosen interest rate policy. As a result, inflation in Turkey was 80%, and the lira collapsed by more than 90% compared to the level when Erdogan led the country.

Similarities with Thatcher are not seen in Truss and former members of her cabinet — Secretary of State for the Environment Chris Patten; Chief Secretary of the Treasury Normant Lamont; and Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. “Margaret Thatcher was a financial conservative who didn't cut taxes until we brought inflation down. She was honest and did not believe in nonsense, & mdash; said Patten.

As Lamont explained, Thatcher proceeded from the premise that tax cuts should be financed either by economic growth or by cuts in government spending. “I think that every Tory, like many other people, believes in the desirability of lowering taxes. But no conservative will ever see this as an ideological imperative. he said.

Sunak called his rival's plans immoral, warning that such an approach would lead to higher inflation, higher mortgage rates and simply harm the economy. “Not only do I think it's wrong for the economy, I also think it's immoral because there's nothing noble or good about accumulating bills on a country's credit card that we pass on to our children and grandchildren,” explained the Minister of Finance.

Position of candidates before the vote

Voting for the new prime minister, in which all members of the party will take part, is scheduled for August 1 & 5, it will be held by mail. According to a YouGov poll, the majority of Tories intend to vote for Truss (49%), while 31% of respondents support Sunak, another 15% were undecided.

730 members of the Conservative Party took part in the poll.

As noted by YouGov, 50% of respondents believe that Sunak will be a good leader, while 69% of respondents share the same opinion about Truss. At the same time, 42% believe that the Minister of Finance is not suitable for the post of prime minister, in the case of Truss, 31%

40% of the polled conservatives believe that Sunak cannot be trusted, while 18% do not trust Truss. However, the proportion of those who have not decided on the confidence in the candidate in the case of Trass is greater— 19% versus 12% for Sunak.

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