Tory leadership race: Your views on leadership candidates’ debate

Image copyright Jeff Overs/BBC
Image caption The five remaining candidates met at BBC Broadcasting House in London for their latest debate

Brexit and Islamophobia dominated the second TV debate faced by the Conservative Party leadership contenders.

The five remaining candidates met for the Our Next Prime Minister debate on BBC One, during which they answered questions from members of the public.

But what did viewers make of their answers?

It was the second time most candidates had gone head-to-head on TV, following a debate held on Channel 4 on Sunday.

But it was the first to feature current frontrunner Boris Johnson.

The BBC had received thousands of questions, with other topics debated including the HS2 high speed rail project, public spending and climate change.

But, of course, Brexit dominated discussion in the debate, hosted by Emily Maitlis.

On the question of Brexit

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brexit was the topic which dominated the debate

The deadline for exiting the European Union and whether that would be a no-deal scenario, were both issues put to the candidates.

Some viewers said they felt none of the hopefuls were clear enough on how to move the country forward.

Owen Reed, 19 and from Bedworth, was a Conservative who stood for the party in local elections, but said he has now joined the Brexit Party.

He felt candidates were not strong enough about leaving on 31 October and believed there has been a swing publicly in favour of no-deal, which he felt has not been recognised.

“From the debate tonight it became clear that time and time again they are not listening,” he said.

“They are all going to Theresa May’s deal again, they just want to change it cosmetically.”

Chris Edwards, 34, from Colchester, felt none of the candidates “seem to believe in leaving the EU”.

“They were all saying leaving without a deal is basically Armageddon but we should prepare for it just in case,” he said.

“It was in British law that we were supposed to leave on 29 March… I feel like the chance has gone.”

But he said, he thought Mr Johnson had the best chance of securing a deal on 31 October, if he had the right cabinet.

“If he can get Jacob Rees-Mogg and Esther McVey in the cabinet they would be the real structure… and he could just be the celebrity,” Mr Edwards added.

Robert Dugmore, 63, from Birmingham, said he found the debate “profoundly depressing.”

“Whichever of those gentlemen gets elected at the end of July, nothing has changed in parliament.

“They are going to go in, they don’t have a majority, what are they going to do if they can’t get it through?

“All they were doing was demonstrating the impossibility of the situation, they were kicking it around and I thought none of them were better than what we just got rid of.”

Tackling Islamophobia

Image caption Abdullah Patel said he welcomed calls for a independent investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party

Among those who appeared during the debate posing questions to the candidates was Abdullah Patel from Gloucester, speaking from a studio in Bristol.

An imam, he said he had seen the everyday impact of “Islamophobic rhetoric” and asked whether candidates accepted that words have consequences.

He said he had assumed the candidates would not answer his question, but was pleased with the promise of action.

“Boris answered by speaking about his grandfather then going onto Iran and dodging the question, Gove used it to have a dig at Jeremy Corbyn and Jeremy Hunt thought it was the right time to start speaking about his own family rather than actually addressing the question and to be honest it is nothing less than I expected,” he said.

“The one good thing was Sajid Javid making everybody promise, at least verbally, that they would welcome an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, which is a positive step forward.”

But Mr Patel said he couldn’t imagine voting for any of the candidates.

“Rory Stewart, although I don’t agree with many of his policies and much of what he said today actually, the one thing he did say correctly today was a lot of what these people are claiming is airy-fairy, there is not much substance to it, it is a whole load of hollow promises, they are promising things which they voted against themselves previously so I’m not inclined to vote for any of them really.”

Was there a winning candidate?

Image copyright Jeff Overs / BBC
Image caption Boris Johnson is the current favourite

Boris Johnson might be the current favourite, but viewers had mixed opinions on whether there was an overall winner.

Mr Johnson’s place in the lead was secured in the latest round of voting, securing 126 votes – 12 more than in the first round and 80 more than Mr Hunt who was in second place with with 46 votes.

Amy Green, 36, who is chair of her local Conservative association in Leeds, said: “I think Boris came head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates.

“He didn’t get drawn into a lot of the back and forth like the other candidates did. He is clear with his ideas and his policy.

“A big Brexiteer, somebody who really campaigned hard for Vote Leave and I like that, that he has a commitment to take us out at the end of October, come what may.”

Marian Peat, 65, from Nottingham, a self-confessed Boris Johnson fan, said she felt he was treated unfairly compared to other candidates.

“The presenter was just going on about what he has said in the past,” she said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rory Stewart was praised for being “realistic”

Rory Stewart was the “most impressive”, according to David Savage from Essex.

The 74-year-old said: “All the others were making all sorts of promises, with no possibility of having them costed out properly, about reducing tax and all this sort of thing, and he did actually say, ‘Let’s be realistic about all this’.”

But for Martin Letts, 76, from Southampton, Mr Hunt, the current foreign secretary, was the winner: “I think Jeremy Hunt came over as a statesman… his body language was very good.

“I think Jeremy came over as the most diplomatic statesman and he could therefore stand up to EU negotiations.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Other viewers described Jeremy Hunt as a “statesman”

But it was not a view shared by Chris Gray, 74, from Gosport – although she was unimpressed by all of the candidates.

“They still don’t live in the real world,” she said.

“I picked up on the fact that they kept having digs at Jeremy Corbyn, I think perhaps they are running a bit scared of him. It was a lot of waffle. They are just not dealing with the proper issues.”

What happens next?

The candidates face the next round of eliminations on Wednesday, with the final two likely to be known by the end of the week.

And although the winner will become the country’s next prime minister, the only people eligible to vote will be Conservative Party members.

None of the candidates in the debate said they would be keen to take the country to another general election while the issue of Brexit still looms.

But, that was not something Elliott Curtis, 43 from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, found acceptable.

“It was a good debate tonight but I think the final vote and say should be down to the general public to vote on the next PM,” he said.

Compare candidates’ policies

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more


– Has said he would consider a further delay to Brexit to achieve a better deal. – Plans to negotiate a “fullstop” to the Irish border backstop plan. He wants a free trade agreement, similar to the deal between Canada and the EU. – Would support a no-deal Brexit if he couldn’t get a better deal from Brussels.

– Would leave the EU with no deal, but it’s not his preferred option. – Wants changes to the Irish backstop and proposes sending a new negotiating team to Brussels. – Wants to make changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and thinks it’s possible to get them done by 31 October, but has not ruled out an extension.

– Would focus on making changes to the backstop. Would commission UK border force to work on solving the Northern Ireland border problem, paid for by the UK. – Says he cannot envisage circumstances in which he would want to have another extension to the UK’s exit date and the country must be prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

– Wants to leave on 31 October, the deadline for Brexit set by the EU, with or without a deal. He admits a no-deal exit will cause “some disruption” but says the “way to get a good deal is to prepare for no deal”. – Wants to remove the backstop from any deal and replace it with “alternative arrangements”. – Says he would withhold the £39bn “divorce” payment the UK is due to give the EU as part of the negotiated deal. He says the money will be retained until there is “greater clarity about the way forward”.

– Believes a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” for the UK and is “undeliverable” and “unnecessary”. – He said it was unrealistic to believe the UK could get a new Brexit deal agreed by the EU and Parliament by the 31 October deadline. – Prefers trying to push through the current deal, agreed by Theresa May. However he says, if that failed, he would set up a jury of citizens to thrash out a compromise.


– Says he wants to replace VAT after Brexit with a lower, simpler sales tax. – Wants to create the “most pro-business” tax regime in the world and put business at the heart of the revival of Britain. – Says he would not use the tax and benefits system to give the already wealthy another tax cut. – Says he would scrap the High Speed rail 2 project.

– As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into the next Silicon Valley, a “hub of innovation”. – Pledged to slash business taxes to the lowest in Europe to attract firms to Britain after Brexit and reduce corporation tax.

– Has promised to break from the austerity of the past nine years by slowing the pace of debt reduction. – Says this would free up about £25bn a year for spending priorities, including education. – Other money would be spent on local government and efforts to tackle crime, including an increase in the number of police officers by 20,000.

– Pledges to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 by raising the 40% tax threshold to £80,000. – Says it will benefit three million people and would cost £9.6bn a year. – Plans to pay for the cut partly from a pot set aside by the Treasury for a possible no-deal Brexit, and partly by increasing employee National Insurance payments.

– Criticises other candidates for offering “cheap electoral bribes” to win support. – Says rather than being “straight” with people, his opponents have pledged “eye-watering” tax cuts worth £84bn.


– Says he wants to ensure the NHS is “fully-funded, properly funded” and that funding is protected under law. – Says he will spend £1bn extra on schools if he becomes prime minister.

– Mental health support in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content. – A cut in interest rate paid on tuition fees. – Long term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession in return for a guarantee that no one leaves the education system without a “rigorous qualification” sufficient to work up to at least the average salary.

– Has suggested slowing down the rate of debt reduction, to release money for education. – Wants to see a “multi-year, multi-billion-pound boost” to spending on schools to “change the life chances of so many young people”.

– Promises to raise spending on secondary school pupils to £5,000 each. – Called the funding gap between some schools in cities compared to those in rural areas a “disturbing reality”. – Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS.

– Pledges to invest more into education, especially for those in “mid-life”. – Vows to put a long-term plan in place to tackle the issue of social care in the UK. – Says people should not have to pay hospital car parking charges to visit a sick relative or wait four weeks for a GP appointment.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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