Mr Sunak appeared with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, who endorsed his bid for No 10

Rishi points at things: Wannabe PM poses on Teesside trip (though he might rethink £500 Prada shoes)

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Tory leadership frontrunner Rishi Sunak strikes his best ‘pointing at things’ pose on trip to the North East (though he might want to rethink £500 Prada shoes for visit to building site)

  • Ex-Chancellor and frontrunner in Tory leadership contest gets coveted backer
  • Sunak appeared with Teesside mayor Ben Houchen in £500 Prada suede loafers
  • He said: ‘The number one economic priority we face as a country is inflation’ 
  • No 10 candidate is most popular among MPs, but faces tough test with members

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Rishi Sunak used a visit to Teesside today to argue again that inflation must be restrained before any tax cuts can take place.

The ex-Chancellor, a leading contender for Tory leader and No 10, received the sought-after backing of the north-east region’s mayor, Ben Houchen.

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Standing alongside Mr Houchen in £500 brown Prada suede loafers, Sunak doubled down on his cautious remedies to the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: ‘I think the number one economic priority we face as a country is inflation.

‘I want to get a grip of inflation because inflation is what makes everybody poorer.

Mr Sunak appeared with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, who endorsed his bid for No 10

Mr Sunak appeared with Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, who endorsed his bid for No 10

The ex-chancellor used the visit to argue that inflation must be tackled before any tax cuts

The ex-chancellor used the visit to argue that inflation must be tackled before any tax cuts

The ex-chancellor used the visit to argue that inflation must be tackled before any tax cuts

‘If we don’t get a grip of it now it will last longer and that is not a good thing.

‘Once we’ve done that, I will deliver tax cuts.’

Mr Sunak’s comments came after a combative appearance last night in the first televised debate of the leadership contest so far.

He clashed with rival frontrunners Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss, claiming that his rivals’ plans to cut taxes by borrowing money were ‘fairytale’. 

Sunak wore a pair of brown suede Prada penny loafers which can be found online for £500

Sunak wore a pair of brown suede Prada penny loafers which can be found online for £500

Sunak wore a pair of brown suede Prada penny loafers which can be found online for £500

It wasn't immediately clear what Mr Sunak or Mr Houchen were pointing at during the visit

It wasn't immediately clear what Mr Sunak or Mr Houchen were pointing at during the visit

It wasn’t immediately clear what Mr Sunak or Mr Houchen were pointing at during the visit

Mr Sunak topped the voting in the first two ballots of Tory MPs but polling suggests he might struggle against foreign secretary Truss or trade minister Mordaunt in the final members’ run-off vote.

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He insisted, however, that he remained the candidate best equipped to take on Labour in a general election.

‘I am going to continue making the positive case for my candidacy and I believe I am the best possible person to help our party defeat Keir Starmer and defeat the Labour Party in a general election,’ the Richmond, Yorks MP said.

Houchen said he was backing Sunak's campaign because of his commitment to levelling up

Houchen said he was backing Sunak's campaign because of his commitment to levelling up

Houchen said he was backing Sunak’s campaign because of his commitment to levelling up

Houchen said: 'Boris Johnson did a fantastic job with starting [levelling up] off and we can't afford for that to be left behind'

Houchen said: 'Boris Johnson did a fantastic job with starting [levelling up] off and we can't afford for that to be left behind'

Houchen said: ‘Boris Johnson did a fantastic job with starting [levelling up] off and we can’t afford for that to be left behind’

‘That’s what the new leader needs to be able to do. They also need to restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite our country, and I believe I am the best placed to do all of that.’

Tees Valley Tory mayor Ben Houchen said he was backing Sunak because of his commitment to the government’s levelling up agenda.

Mr Houchen celebrated the former No 11 occupant’s Treasury transfer to Darlington, and for backing the area with transport investment and support for the local freeport.

Slick Rishi: the ex-chancellor wore his trademark hoodie as he prepared his Budget remarks

Slick Rishi: the ex-chancellor wore his trademark hoodie as he prepared his Budget remarks

Slick Rishi: the ex-chancellor wore his trademark hoodie as he prepared his Budget remarks 

He said: ‘The really important thing is that in this leadership contest we need to make sure that whoever wins is committed to the levelling-up agenda.

‘Boris Johnson did a fantastic job with starting it off and we can’t afford for that to be left behind. 

‘And with Rishi having directly engaged with me on this, and having committed fully to the levelling-up pledge that I put out to the leadership contenders, given what he’s done locally as well, it feels to me like he’s the right man for the job.’

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