U.K. PM race | At debate, Truss says she will call out Putin in front of “swing” countries like India, Indonesia

Sunday’s debate was the second in the U.K. Prime Ministerial race that began last week, with a third round of voting set for Monday

Updated - July 18, 2022 09:06 am IST

Published - July 18, 2022 04:04 am IST - London

Conservative party leadership contender Liz Truss. File.

Conservative party leadership contender Liz Truss. File. | Photo Credit: AP

Five conservative MPs in the U.K. debated each other on Sunday night, hopeful of wining the leadership of their party and the top job at Downing Street. Responding to a question on whether they would sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 [ scheduled for November], British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, one of the Prime Ministerial candidates, said she would call out Mr. Putin in front of “swing” countries like India and Indonesia.

“I think it is very important that we have the voices of the free world facing down Vladimir Putin,” she said.

”I was prepared to face down [ Russian Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov, I’m prepared to say [sic] to Putin directly and call him out in front of those very important swing countries like India and Indonesia. So I would go there, and I would call Putin out,” she said.

All the other candidates said they would not.

“Not under current circumstances,” said Penny Mordaunt.

Rishi Sunak said he had walked out of the G20 meeting [ in April] when the Russian Finance minister was taking part.

Read | Rishi Sunak tops second round of voting in UK leadership contest

At one point during the event, the moderator , ITV’s Julie Etchingham, said there had been questions about Mr. Sunak’s judgement with regard to his wife’s tax status and his own ‘green card’ status—Mr Sunak was a permanent resident of the U.S. while Chancellor of the U.K.

“So I’ve always been a completely normal U.K. taxpayer. My wife is from another country so she is treated differently. But she explained that in the spring, and she resolved that issue, but there is commentary about my wife’s family’s wealth,” Mr. Sunak said, adding that he would address the topic “head on”. Mr. Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, is an Indian citizen and has a 0.91% in tech giant, Infosys.

Mr. Sunak said he was “incredibly proud” of what his parents-in-law had built. Mr. Sunak’s in laws are Infosys founder Narayana Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy, who initially financed the firm with ₹10,000 in 1981. Mr. Sunak said his father in law “came from nothing” and built one of the world’s most successful firms.

“It’s an incredibly conservative story. Actually, it’s a story that I’m really proud of .... and as Prime Minister, I want to ensure that we can create more stories like theirs here, at home.”

Sunday’s debate was the second in the race that began last week, with a third round of voting set for Monday. There was daylight between the candidates on some debate topics, such as taxation, but on others, they had the same position- such as not wanting to have Prime Minster Boris Johnson on their teams, if they were to become the next Prime Minister.

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