Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak make pitches win votes in East Anglia ahead of hustings

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
Credit: PA
Both leadership contenders have laid out their priorities for East Anglia. Credit: PA

Liz Truss has vowed to “turbocharge” the East Anglian economy, while Rishi Sunak has set his sights on fixing failing mental health services, as the pair unveiled their respective visions for the region.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss, who is the frontrunner to win the Tory leadership contest and become prime minister, has said she would unleash the private sector in the area with “tax cuts and better regulation”.

As part of his package of proposals for the region, former chancellor Mr Sunak pledged to order a review of controversial plans to run a 180km power line across East Anglia and Essex.

Both shared their plans ahead of the penultimate Conservative leadership hustings on Thursday, which is due to take place in Norwich.

Being the MP for South West Norfolk, Ms Truss said she understood the challenges the region faced, and outlined a plan including tax cuts, supply-side reform, better regulation and targeted Investment Zones.

She also pledged to tackle trade union strike action, such as that at the Port of Felixstowe this week, saying that her government would call on unions to get around the negotiating table.

In a bid to deliver for rural communities, the foreign secretary would also cut EU red tape for farmers, reform Treasury investment rules, and scrap top-down housing targets.

Ms Truss said: “I have been lucky enough to be the MP for an East Anglian seat for 12 years, and in that time I have gained a strong understanding of the region and its strengths, but also the challenges it faces.

“If elected prime minister, I will turbocharge the economies of places like Norwich, Great Yarmouth and across East Anglia by unleashing the private sector with tax cuts and better regulation, cracking down on strike action slowing our economy, and repealing the EU regulations that do not work for our rural communities.

“I was personally elected to level up South West Norfolk in 2019. As prime minister, I will ensure we deliver on that promise, not just for my patch but for the whole of East Anglia, and boost opportunity across the region.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak has said he is keen to deliver enhanced rail capacity and follow through on proposed improvements to local road infrastructure.

He said he would also order National Grid to consult again on “innovative and alternative solutions” to current proposals for a 180km power line across East Anglia and Essex, following strong concerns expressed by local communities.

In addition, the former chancellor said he would “urgently” task his health secretary and NHS Improvement with finding a solution to failing mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, with “nothing off the table”.

Mr Sunak said: “The electorate are going to judge our party and our government on delivery, and that’s why I am determined to push forward with some of the exciting proposals for East Anglia that I funded as chancellor.

“It’s right that a lot of the leadership campaign has focused on the immediate challenges that are ahead of us such as the rising cost of living, and under my plans people across this region and the country will get help to help them through the winter.

“But we also need to have a long-term plan to spread opportunity and prosperity across the UK and to every corner of it. My plan for East Anglia and the wider East of England delivers this.”

Ms Truss would also continue the government’s investment in infrastructure across East Anglia, she said.

Her transport secretary would look closely at dualling the whole of the A47, as well as other key infrastructure improvements around the region, such as the Norwich Western Link Road and the Ely North Rail Junction.

Ms Truss has been backed by many of her East Anglian colleagues, including Brandon Lewis, the MP for Great Yarmouth, and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.

Her constituency neighbour George Freeman, the MP for Mid Norfolk, has backed her opponent Mr Sunak, however.

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