On Friday Eastbourne’s Winter Gardens hosted the latest Conservative leadership hustings. Our MP, Nusrat Ghani, spoke at the event and voiced her support for Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary.
In her introduction, Nusrat Ghani spoke about how Liz Truss will “cut bills and steer us through the energy and economic crisis” as well as mentioning that she has “delivered dozens of post-Brexit trade deals”.
Within a few minutes of taking to the stage Liz Truss was interrupted by protesters. There was a brief pause as the demonstrators were escorted out of the venue.
Returning to the stage, Liz Truss said: “Can I just say a few words on the militant people who try and disrupt our country and try and disrupt our democratic processes and our essential services?
“I would legislate immediately to make sure that we stand up to Extinction Rebellion… and I will never, ever, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by militant activists.”
The other candidate, Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor, was asked by a member of the audience from Wealden about planning and Government housing targets. Both candidates have said they want to change the system of top-down targets.
In his response Rishi Sunak said he’d met with the leader of Wealden District Council earlier in the day and talked about this issue.
There shouldn’t be top-down targets imposed on places like Wealden that don’t take into account the very particular local circumstances, particularly as you guys have got about I think 80 or 85%* of land that is an AONB, its an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And the Planning Inspector needs to be told that needs to take that into account. When you are deciding how you want to build your houses, no one can tell you what to do without realising that something that needs to be protected.
And under my leadership, and the plans I want to put in place, it would be protected, because I want to protect your green spaces and trust you to get on with the job of delivering houses for your community, in the way you think is the best.Rishi Sunak
He went on to address the issue of build-out – the criticism that some housing developers will take a considerable length to build houses once planning permission has been granted. He said “developers are sitting on the land”:
I think that is wrong. We need to stop it, and give you the powers to charge them or buy the land back or not give them any more planning permissions until they’ve built them out.Rishi Sunak
What you need to know about the leadership election
Nus Ghani MP is Joint Vice-Chair of the 1922 Committee and because of the Committee’s role in conducting leadership elections has decline to express a preference.
The 1922 Committee, formally known as the Conservative Private Members’ Committee, consists of all backbench MPs. One of the Committee’s biggest responsibilities is overseeing the leadership elections. They can call a vote of no confidence if 15% of Conservative MPs write a letter calling for the vote.
In the first part of the leadership election in a series of ballots, Tory MPs chose their final two candidates. Over the summer these two candidates (Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak) now face a vote by all members of the Conservative Party. To prevent people from joining just to vote, members must have joined at least three months prior to the close of the ballot (in this case, on or before 3rd June 2022). In 2021 there was thought to be around 200,000 members..
The Conservative Party are holding 12 hustings at which Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss make their pitch to members. (Members can invite up to two non-members to attend with them.) On Friday (5th August) there was a husting in Eastbourne at which Nus Ghani spoke.
The ballot will close at 5pm on Friday 2nd September. The winner will be announced on Monday 5th September. The winner will become Leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister.
You can watch the hustings in full on YouTube. It was streamed live by a number of national media companies including The Sun, Sky News and The Guardian.
[* According to stats on Wealden District Council’s website, over 53% of Wealden District falls within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Pevensey levels and the Ashdown Forest are also protected landscapes (Special Protection Areas and Special Area of Conservation.]