Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured during his statement announcing his resignation last week

Tory MPs squirm as they are asked whether Boris Johnson is ‘an honest man’ in first TV debate

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‘Is Boris Johnson an honest man?’ Awkward moment Tory MPs squirm over question on PM – as Tom Tugendhat is the only candidate to give a straight response

  • Remaining candidates have appeared in a live debate on Channel 4 this evening
  • Debate’s opening questions were dominated by shadow of Boris Johnson
  •  Kemi Badenoch was the first candidate to reply, simply answering: ‘Sometimes.’
  • But Tom Tugendhat received applause from audience, replying simply: ‘No.’ 

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This is the awkward moment Tory MPs squirmed as they were asked whether Boris Johnson is ‘an honest man’ – as Tom Tugendhat received applause for being the only candidate to give a straight answer.

The five remaining candidates have appeared in a live debate on Channel 4 this evening to take questions on a range of issues including the cost of living crisis and whether they can each be trusted.

But the debate’s opening questions were dominated by the shadow of Mr Johnson’s time in office, with Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch, Rishi Sunak and Mr Tugendhat asked if he is an honest man. 

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Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch was the first to reply, simply answering: ‘Sometimes.’

Ms Mordaunt then added: ‘There have been some really severe issues and I think he has paid a price for that.’

Former Chancellor Mr Sunak, who resignation with ex-Health Secretary Sajid Javid sparked Mr Johnson’s downfall, said there were a ‘number of reasons’ why he had left his role.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured during his statement announcing his resignation last week

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured during his statement announcing his resignation last week

The five remaining candidates have appeared in a live debate on Channel 4 this evening

The five remaining candidates have appeared in a live debate on Channel 4 this evening

The five remaining candidates have appeared in a live debate on Channel 4 this evening

He answered: ‘I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible and ultimately I reached the conclusion that I couldn’t, and that’s why I resigned… 

‘There were a number of reasons that I resigned but trust and honesty was part of that.’

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss said the Prime Minister had been ‘very clear himself that he made mistakes in Government’ but she had taken his explanation for inaccurate statements over Partygate ‘at face value’.

Mr Tugendhat, a long-term critic of the PM, then received a round of applause from the studio audience when he was the only candidate to simply reply ‘no’.

The MP also acknowledged that “trust in politics has been collapsing, trust in our party has been collapsing”.

He told the debate: ‘I’ve been holding a mirror to many of our actions and asking those in our party, those in our leadership positions, to ask themselves ‘is that what the public really expects?

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‘Are you serving the people of the United Kingdom or are you serving your career? Because that’s the real question tonight. That’s the real question for all of us.’

He then promised a ‘clean start’ – the phrase which is his campaign slogan

It came after Ms Truss had earlier vowed to take an axe to taxes hitting families and businesses today as she ratcheted up the pressure on her rivals for the Tory leadership.

The Foreign Secretary vowed to temporarily remove green levies to take £153 off household power bills and relieve the cost-of-living pressure.

Mr Tugendhat, a long-term critic of the PM, received a round of applause from the studio audience when he was the only candidate to abruptly answer the question

Mr Tugendhat, a long-term critic of the PM, received a round of applause from the studio audience when he was the only candidate to abruptly answer the question

Mr Tugendhat, a long-term critic of the PM, received a round of applause from the studio audience when he was the only candidate to abruptly answer the question

Former Chancellor Mr Sunak said there were a 'number of reasons' why he had left his role

Former Chancellor Mr Sunak said there were a 'number of reasons' why he had left his role

Former Chancellor Mr Sunak said there were a ‘number of reasons’ why he had left his role

Ms Truss, who is languishing in third in the race to replace Boris Johnson, also vowed to reverse a planned increase in corporation tax next year from 19 to 25 per cent – at a cost of £16billion.

She made the pledge as she and the other four MPs still in the race for No10 faced off for the first time, in an online hustings.

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Her tax pledges were in contrast to rivals including frontrunner Rishi Sunak, who again refused to commit to tax cuts. He told those watching the Zoom event organised by the Conservative Home website that controlling soaring inflation was more important than blindly cutting tax.

Ms Truss said: ‘We immediately need to start putting money back into people’s pockets, we know families are struggling to make ends meet at the moment.

‘I would reverse the national insurance rise, I opposed it in Cabinet at the time because I thought it was a mistake, I think it’s even more of a mistake now when we’re facing such strong economic headwinds.

‘I would also have a temporary moratorium on the green energy level to cut £153 from people’s energy bills.

‘And I would also not do the corporation tax hikes because I think it’s vitally important that we’re attracting investment into our country.’

They jostled this afternoon in a digital hustings after favourite Penny Mordaunt accused rival camps of deploying ‘black ops’ to block her from the last two in the contest because they know she will win.

The trade minister – a surprise bookies’ favourite – demanded her opponents tone down their tactics as she boasted about polls suggesting is the most popular with party members.

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