What has the Tory leadership race taught us about Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak?

Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana sums up the final clash of the leadership race

If - as widely predicted- Liz Truss wins the Conservative leadership election next week, then it seems highly unlikely that Rishi Sunak will serve in her Cabinet, despite his warm words for her at tonight’s London hustings.

The reason for that has become clear as these two candidates have toured the country, attending 12 official hustings in total and a series of television debates.

What has emerged over the weeks is a major ideological divide over the economy that makes it almost impossible for them to work together.

Ms Truss’s desire for major tax cuts - reversing national insurance and cancelling a planned rise in corporation tax - has been absolutely slammed by Mr Sunak. He has warned that would be inflationary and lead to higher interest rates.

She’s accused him of driving the country to the edge of recession.

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Despite the pair agreeing on many other things, that divide on the economy could not be more critical now as the country faces up to an unimaginable energy crisis. The response to this cost of living squeeze will be the single most important job for the new PM.

I’ve seen the challenge in recent days when travelling around the country with political producer Iona Napier.

We heard unimaginable stories almost everywhere we went - from people watching their businesses collapse to pensioners genuinely scared that they might not survive the winter.

The scale of this has forced the pair together in some ways.

ITV News has heard from pensioners worried that they might not survive the winter.

Liz Truss had said she wasn’t keen on handouts but has been forced to rethink her response because of the size of the crisis - talking about targeted help. Rishi Sunak said he would put in place a big support package and wait on tax cuts to see inflation tamed. But he’s shifted too - with huge future tax cuts announced.

But overall they have fundamentally different ideas about how to tackle this crisis. Tonight at Wembley arena, we heard more areas of division. He is pro a windfall tax, she is against; she ruled out energy rationing, he said we shouldn’t rule that out.

And if all that means they do not work together, that could lead to an additional problem. If Liz Truss wins over members - she’ll still be taking over a parliamentary party that was far more supportive of Mr Sunak than her.

Remember, only 50 MPs voted for her in the first round. Of course, these contests are all about momentum and many have swung to her since then, but it means that many in parliament may not be immediately convinced by her ideas.

That said, they are all facing constituents crying out for help - and will all be hoping that they will have a response to offer voters, whoever wins next week.