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New Forest MPs Desmond Swayne and Julian Lewis take opposing sides in leadership race

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THE New Forest's two MPs are split over who they are backing in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative party.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss have been clashing over tax and economic policy in angry head to head TV debates since emerging as the the final two leadership candidates following multiple rounds of voting.

Sir Desmond Swayne, for New Forest West, said he will be supporting Mr Sunak, who was backed in the final ballot by 137 MPs out of a total 357.

Sir Desmond Swayne claims care homes have been expressing concerns (49350612)
Sir Desmond Swayne claims care homes have been expressing concerns (49350612)

"Having first supported Suella, then Kemi, I’ve now given my backing to Rishi," he said. "I find him the better performer at the despatch box and the more natural communicator generally.

"The key policy dispute comes down to when we can reasonably start cutting taxes. On this question my heart is with Liz Truss but my judgement is with Rishi’s more cautious approach."

Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, has endorsed Ms Truss, who secured 113 votes in the final ballot and is the current favourite to win.

Dr Julian Lewis (52469725)
Dr Julian Lewis (52469725)

"She has put greater emphasis on issues of defence and security and is likely to take a strong position in dangerous and difficult times," he said.

"But whoever wins, I shall – as always – press for greater effort and investment in defence to keep our country as safe, in a dangerous world, as we possibly can."

Hustings events and another TV debate have been scheduled for Mr Sunak and Ms Truss to state their case for the top job, with postal ballots set to arrive on Tory members’ doorsteps by Friday this week.

The deadline for ballots to be returned is 2nd September, and the new leader and prime minister will be announced on 5th September.

Christchurch MP Sir Chris Chope was also approached by the A&T for comment.

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