The West Country Debate July: Who should be the country's next Prime Minister?

  • Watch July's edition of The West Country Debate

In a week which saw a heatwave sweep across the country, it was Westminster that reached boiling point.

The race to become the next Conservative party leader and prime minister of the country has been hotting up as the first few candidates are whittled down.

Those left face a summer-long battle to show the public and, more importantly, party members who is right for the top job.

But what will they inherit when the heat of the leadership election makes way for the gloomier outlook of rising energy bills, inflation and industrial action this autumn?

On The West Country Debate panel this month:

  • Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour, Bristol East

  • Rebecca Pow MP, Conservative, Taunton Deane

  • Richard Foord MP, Liberal Democrat, Tiverton & Honiton

The region's Conservative MPs are mostly united behind Rishi Sunak with Liz Truss in second place, followed by Penny Mordaunt.

Conservative MP Rebecca Pow, who represents Taunton Deane, says she is backing Rishi Sunak to be the next Prime Minister after he helped rollout the furlough scheme during the pandemic and she believes he has a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis.

She said: "He is trustworthy he holds the values that I consider so important. He's got common sense, he's straight talking.

"He did resign which was an enormous step to take and it set the ball rolling. It's a huge step to take when you're part of the team. But it was in the end the right action and he has to be given credit for that."

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, who represents Bristol East, says there should be a general election after circumstances have changed dramatically in recent years.

"I think you need to take (the country) back because so much has changed. We've had a very chaotic three years. If we don't have an election soon I think the government will just be limping on.

"Boris Johnson is resigning in disgrace and people are concerned about this interim period."

Newly elected Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Hontion, Richard Foord said: "The choice is not one I would want to make. Many of them have been propping up Boris Johnson's government which staggers on in a 'zombie-like' fashion."

"I'm hearing in my part of Devon that it is absolutely time for a general election. I heard polling that 56% of the public want one. They're not happy just to see another reshuffle."