Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak quizzed on abortion rights and benefits in latest Tory roundups in Northern Ireland | Political news

Liz Truss has rejected a plea to reinstate Northern Ireland’s abortion ban while Rishi Sunak has vowed to be ‘much tougher’ on the benefit system during the Conservative Party’s latest raids in Belfast.

Responding to an audience member who claimed Westminster had “undemocratically” imposed abortion laws in Northern Ireland, Mrs Truss said: “I’m afraid I don’t agree with you. We’re a UK and we need all our laws to apply across the UK. That’s what a Union is. “

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak promised to “get people off benefits and put them to work”, telling the public: “If there are hours to do, if there is a job, people should take the job instead of just be able to continue to receive benefits.”

He later added, “It’s the right thing for them and their families because there’s tremendous dignity in the work and it’s fair for everyone, for people who pay their taxes, who would expect rightly so that it happens.”

New poll puts Truss 32 points ahead – Reuters

He continued: “And I want to make sure that I deliver a welfare system that has that outcome.”

Both candidates faced tough questions during the hour-long election campaign.

A nurse asked Mr Sunak what he was going to do about the NHS, saying that in his hospital she had seen ‘two emergency psychiatric beds…mattresses on the floor’.

The former Chancellor said the NHS was ‘clearly under pressure’ but a ‘priority’ for him, and highlighted his proposal to charge for missed GP appointments.

Elsewhere, a member of the public asked whether Ms Truss’ support of Boris Johnson called into question her “own personal integrity and honesty”.

The Foreign Secretary replied: “I don’t agree with that. Boris Johnson has been an excellent Prime Minister.

“He delivered Brexit, he delivered the COVID vaccine and he stood up to Vladimir Putin and supported Ukrainians and I’m proud of what he did.”

The two candidates were also asked to give their position on the Northern Ireland protocol.

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“I will protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK”

Ms Truss once again referred to herself as a ‘child of the Union’ and told the audience that she considered the Union a ‘family’ that she never wanted to separate.

She added that the protocol was causing ‘injustice’ in Northern Ireland and warned: ‘Until we get the NI protocol issue straightened out, we are not going to get Stormont back up and running.

“And I’ve had discussions with all parties in Northern Ireland, I’m determined to make it happen.

“And as we move forward on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, we will see power-sharing restored in Northern Ireland, as well as the Belfast Good Friday Agreement restored.”

But Ms Truss said it “could take time” to get the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill through the Lords.

She added that she would not accept an offer from the EU that did not make the UK courts the final arbiter, ensure smooth trade between Britain and Northern Ireland and allow people in Northern Ireland to benefit from tax rulings.

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Meanwhile, Mr Sunak has said he will do what is necessary to secure the Northern Ireland protocol and protect the Union.

“It is clear that the operation of the protocol, as it is currently enacted, puts this position in danger – and I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to remedy this,” he said.

But the former chancellor also stressed that a negotiated outcome with the EU would be a “much faster” solution.

Speaking to reporters after the Conservative Party’s eighth election campaign, Mr Sunak renewed his attack on Ms Truss’ tax cut plans, saying they would not provide much help to low-income households or retirees.

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He said his approach would be a “moral failure of the Conservative government”.

“I believe I have the right plan to help everyone in the UK, support them with the cost of living, especially the most vulnerable groups in society like those on the lowest incomes and retirees. But with help for everyone,” he said. .

“But what we also mustn’t do is stoke the fire of inflation and permanent unfunded tax cuts risk doing just that.

“They will dramatically increase our borrowing and they risk entrenching high inflation for years to come. This is the wrong plan. My plan is the right plan.”

Four more Tory leadership races remain and the winner of the contest, along with the next prime minister, will be announced on September 5.