Tory leadership latest: 'More grammar schools in every area,' Liz Truss says

·15 min read
British Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss at the Conservative Party leadership election hustings at the Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester, Britain 19 August 2022 - PETER POWELL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
British Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss at the Conservative Party leadership election hustings at the Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester, Britain 19 August 2022 - PETER POWELL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Liz Truss has given her strongest support yet for grammar schools as she said on Friday night that she wants to see more selective schools across the country.

Speaking at the ninth hustings of the Conservative leadership race, the Foreign Secretary said she wants more free schools and "more grammar schools in every area".

She told the audience of Tory party members: "I send both of my daughters to a grammar school but they only had that choice because we're in a particular part of London. I want people to have that choice right across the country."

Labour imposed a ban on the establishment of new state grammar schools in 1998. If she reverses this, it would prompt the biggest revolution in English education for half a century.

The reversal of the ban would go much further than her leadership rival Rishi Sunak, who has previously said that he would only go so far as supporting the expansion of existing grammar schools.

Ms Truss also vowed to slash red tape for farmers, says they're spending too much time “ticking boxes” rather than producing food

And she labelled Andy Burnham the "miserabilist mayor... who doesn't want opportunities" for people in Manchester.

The hustings on Friday night, hosted by GB News, was the third hustings this week alone, with both leadership candidates having already gone head-to-head in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The contest is now entering its final stages, with just over two weeks to go before the Prime Minister is announced on September 5.

08:54 PM

That is all for today...

The ninth of the 12 formal Tory leadership hustings has now finished.

But Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will not have to wait long for the next event with Tory members due to grill the pair in Birmingham on Tuesday of next week.

The Telegraph will be live blogging the event - see you then!

08:48 PM

Bring back grammars

Liz Truss says she sends her children to grammar schools because she is lucky to have the choice to do so where she lives.

"I want people to have that choice right across the country," she says, and is greeted with applause.

08:42 PM

I support fracking

"I support fracking in areas where there is local support," Ms Truss says, adding that the local communities should stand to benefit.

We should also move forward with nuclear power and with drilling in the North Sea, she adds.

Asked whether local objections from "Nimbys" should be overruled, Ms Truss says local communities need to be shown the benefits and this involves "encouraging" rather than overruling.

08:36 PM

Can't tell children what to do

I would be "delighted" if one of my daughters wanted to do an apprenticeship, Ms Truss says.

"Ultimately you can't tell your children what to do," she adds.

08:32 PM

A dig at the BBC

Liz Truss gets some laughter from the audience at an impromptu joke where she compares GB News, the broadcaster which is hosting the hustings, to the BBC.

"It's not the BBC, you actually get your facts right!" she says.

08:23 PM

League tables

We need more transparency about the police's record on fighting crime, Ms Truss says and adds that we should have league tables for forces.

"It does help the police be held to account," she says, adding that we need a "change of culture". 

08:20 PM

Liz Truss returns

Liz Truss is back on the stage for questions with the host Alastair Stewart, followed by questions from the audience

Liz Truss speaks during the Conservative Leadership hustings on August 19, 2022 in Manchester, England
Liz Truss speaks during the Conservative Leadership hustings on August 19, 2022 in Manchester, England

08:18 PM

Levelling Up

Mr Sunak is asked about levelling up by one of the audience members.

"If we define levelling up as something that is only for the north we will pay a political price for it because it's wrong," he tells the audience, and is greeted with applause.

"I am proud of my record delivering for the north and I will continue delivering for the north."

08:15 PM

Free speech on campus

A young man stands up to tell how he was reprimanded by his college after posting messages on Twitter in support of the Government's Rwanda deal.

"I want to change the public sector equality duty," Mr Sunak says, so that universities are "forced" to uphold free speech on campus.

08:13 PM

A tough winter

How will you help low and middle earning families?

"The best way to help those people is to make sure it's only tough for one winter," Mr Sunak says.

It will not help families to do things that might make us feel better for "five minutes", he explains, adding that if inflation persists "we are all stuffed".

08:08 PM

Controlling the unions

Mr Sunak is asked how he will control the unions. "We need to crack on and pass a piece of legislation," he says,  referring to the minimum service bill which means they will not be able to hold the country "to ransom". This is a policy that he and Liz Truss agree on, he acknowledges.

We must not put "fuel on the fire" of inflation and repeat mistakes that were made in the 1970s.

08:05 PM

Moral failure

This winter will be "incredibly difficult", Mr Sunak says, adding that pensioners and the most vulnerable need specific help.

It will be a "moral failure" not to help people this winter and the British public will never forgive us, he says.

08:02 PM

I will fight to the end

"I will fight until the last day of this contest and I plan to keep going until the end," Mr Sunak says as he ends on a defiant note. Now we are moving on to questions from the audience.

08:01 PM

The Sunak vision

What is the Sunak vision for Britain?

"Government can't do everything," he says. "Government shouldn't do everything."

Mr Sunak adds that Conservatives believe in family and community - people should not expect the Government will always step in to solve people's problems.

07:58 PM

Applause for Sunak as he walked in

Rishi Sunak received a large round of applause when he entered the room.

Rishi Sunak enters the Manchester hustings
Rishi Sunak enters the Manchester hustings

07:56 PM

Missed appointments

Mr Sunak says last year there were 50 million missed appointments in the NHS which "deprives people of the care they need". He says we need to be "bold and radical" to reform the NHS and we need to learn from private healthcare.

07:53 PM

Law and order

Mr Sunak is being asked about how he would keep streets safe.

"We are the party that is trusted on law and order", Mr Sunak says.

He says "we do not talk enough" about grooming gangs and says we need to record the ethnicity of perpetrators.

Mr Sunak says we should not let political correctness stand in the way and also says that we need to toughen up sentencing as people should be given a second or third chance, "but not a nineteenth chance".

07:49 PM

"Go Rishi"

Mr Sunak returns to the stage to be quizzed by the host Alastair Stewart. As he walks in, audience members chant "Go Rishi! Go Rishi!"

07:47 PM

Liz Truss wraps up

"I will deliver for all the voters who voted for us in 2019 and all our other voters," Liz Truss tells the Manchester hustings. "We will take on successfully at the next election yet another Labour leader from north London."

07:45 PM

Our best days are ahead of us

"There are too many people who talk Britain down," Ms Truss says. "We should be proud of our heritage."

Those who say are best days are behind us are "completely wrong", she tells the audience. "Our best days are ahead of us".

07:44 PM

A woman is a woman

Another big round of applause as Ms Truss says we need to legislate to make sure "we can't be overruled by the ECHR".

Too much debate has been dominated by "left wing identity politics".

"I am a plain speaking Yorkshire woman, and I know that a woman is a woman," she said and promises to protect single-sex spaces.

07:42 PM

Hours I will never get back

"Before I became an MP in 2010,  I was a local councillor," Ms Truss tells the audience, saying that she sat on the planning committee.

Repeating one of her favourite hustings one-liners, she gets a few laughs from the audience as she adds: "Those are hours of my life I will never get back."

07:39 PM

Not the time for business as usual

"We've had decades of relatively low growth," she says. "Now is not the time for business as usual."

We need to make the most of the post-Brexit opportunities and get all the EU laws off the statute books by the end of 2023, she says.

07:38 PM

Super highway to success

"I want to see a successful north of England where everyone has opportunities," Ms Truss says.

She promises to build Northern Powerhouse Rail and says she wants to make the M62 the "super highway to success".

07:36 PM

Liz Truss takes the stage

"I'm not from a traditional Conservative background," Ms Truss tells the audience.

She talks about how she saw children who were "let down" at her school because of a lack of opportunity in the area.

"I didn't think it had to be like that, and that's what drove me into politics," she adds. "I want us to be an aspiration nation".

07:34 PM

In Liz we Truss

"We need a Prime Minister who can deliver on levelling up," Mr Berry tells the audience.

"We need to have a PM who dares to do," he says and finishes his introduction with the campaign catchphrase: "In Liz we Truss".

07:33 PM

Jake Berry takes the stage

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen and Liz Truss supporter, is up on stage to introduce the Foreign Secretary.

"Poll after poll shows that only Liz can take on Keir Starmer at the next election," he says.

Mr Berry goes on to quote former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as saying: "If you want something said you ask a man. If you want something done you ask a woman", adding that that woman is Liz Truss.

07:28 PM

I will give you my all

"I will give you my all", Mr Sunak says, adding that he "humbly" asks for their support. He ends his speech on a positive note and shakes hands with several audience members as he leaves the auditorium.

07:27 PM

Only I can beat Labour, Sunak insists

"We have to win a fifth general election in a row", Mr Sunak says adding that this is possible, even though this would mean making electoral history.

"It is going to require us to appeal to swing voters everywhere," he tells the Manchester audience. "I firmly believe that I am the candidate that offers the best opportunity of ensuring that our party beats Labour."

07:25 PM

I will deliver for the North, says Sunak

We need to make sure we capitalise on Brexit and cut EU red tape, Mr Sunak says - he is greeted with applause from the audience.

"I will be a Prime Minister that continues to deliver for the north," he says.

07:24 PM

Our children must not pick up the tab

"I have set out a radical plan to finally get to grips with illegal migration," Mr Sunak says .

He adds that he will not pursue policies that will make inflation worse and go on for longer - a clear swipe at his rival Liz Truss' plans for the economy.

He says it is "not right" to ask our children and grandchildren to "pick up the tab" for the nation's spending.

07:22 PM

I will take on 'lefty, woke culture'

I want to take on "lefty, woke culture" that seeks to cancel our values and our women, Mr Sunak says.

He adds that he wants to call out the failures of Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

"I will never let political correctness stand in the way of keeping us safe," he says.

07:19 PM

Rishi Sunak takes the stage

Rishi Sunak opens by saying this country did something "extraordinary" for his family by allowing them to make a life in Britain.

"In my family, we prioritised hard work as a way to forge ahead in life," he says.  "For my parents, there was one thing that they believed the one thing above all else would be the way to provide a better future for their children."

He said that was education, and the best way to transform lives is by ensuring every child has a right to a world class education.

07:15 PM

Hustings are underway

Cllr Oliver Johnstone, a Tory councillor from Stockport and Rishi Sunak supporter, gets up on stage to introduce the former Chancellor.

He says that "people are worried" about "rising inflation and how they will pay their energy bills".

Cllr Johnstone adds: "We need a leader with the plan, and that is Rishi Sunak".

He says that inflation "makes people, all of us, poorer" and Mr Sunak is right to make tackling this his top priority.

07:08 PM

"Tories Out"

Fewer than 100 protesters have gathered outside the Manchester Central Convention Complex, right in the heart of the city, chanting “Tories Out”, The Telegraph's political correspondent Nick Gutteridge reports.

The demonstrators, who were kept at bay by a line of around 20 police officers in fluorescent yellow jackets, came with a wide range of grievances.

Some were opponents of Brexit flying the EU flag, whilst others brandished placards reading “trans rights now” and “no to Rwanda” referencing the government’s immigration policy.

With the hustings taking place against the backdrop of rail strikes, there were also union members in the crowd waving flags with the logos of Unite and PCS.

07:07 PM

Rishi Sunak poses for photos

Rishi Sunak poses for a photograph with supporters as he arrives for a Conservative Party Hustings event 
Rishi Sunak poses for a photograph with supporters as he arrives for a Conservative Party Hustings event

Photographs show Rishi Sunak posing for pictures with his supporters as he arrives at the Manchester hustings

 Rishi Sunak poses for a photograph as he arrives for a Conservative Party Hustings event 
Rishi Sunak poses for a photograph as he arrives for a Conservative Party Hustings event

06:41 PM

Nine down, three to go

Today's hustings in Manchester is the ninth of 12 formal hustings events in this Tory leadership contest.

After today, the remaining hustings are:

  • Birmingham, August 23

  • Norwich, August 25

  • London, August 31

The winner of the contest will then be announced on September 5.

06:34 PM

What happened at the last hustings?

The most recent hustings took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

At the event, Rishi Sunak vowed to be "much tougher" on how the UK's benefits system works if he becomes prime minister and suggested he would force unemployed claimants to take jobs when they become available.

He also said he wanted to get more people "off benefits and into work" and that this would help businesses which are currently struggling to fill staff vacancies.

You can read the full story on last night’s hustings here.

06:24 PM

Calls to wrap things up

Meanwhile, a senior Government minister has suggested that the Tory leadership contest is taking too long and said it would have been better for the process to have been “wrapped up quicker”.

James Cleverly, the Education Secretary, who is a supporter of Liz Truss, told LBC that he “would have been very, very happy if this whole process was over more quickly”.

Ministers have faced accusations of serving in a “zombie government” incapable of making big decisions as the nation waits for the Conservative Party to choose a replacement to Boris Johnson.

06:22 PM

The backdrop

So far today, we have had little in the way of policy announcements from either leadership camp. But supporters of both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been out on the airwaves, talking up their support for their respective candidate.

Grant Shapps,  the Transport Secretary and Mr Sunak backer,  said earlier today that the former Chancellor could still spring a Brexit-style surprise and win the Tory leadership contest.

He told Sky News that polls and pundits had been wrong about election and referendum results in the past and suggested that Mr Sunak could still secure an unexpected victory over his rival. The Telegraph's Jack Maidment has the full story here. 

06:07 PM

Good evening

Good evening and welcome to a special Tory leadership edition of the politics live blog.

Tonight's hustings kick off in Manchester at 7pm with both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will be hoping to convince Conservative party members in the north of England to vote for them to be the next Prime Minister.

The event will be livestreamed by GB News with presenter Alastair Stewart interviewing both candidates separately followed by questions, selected at random, from Tory party members.