Published25 minutes ago
The latest Tory leadership debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss has been cancelled after the presenter fainted on air.
The Sun and TalkTV debate, hosted by journalist Kate McCann, abruptly halted around halfway through after a loud crash was heard.
TalkTV said McCann was “fine” but the channel had been given medical advice not to continue.
“We apologise to our viewers and listeners,” the channel added.
The leadership candidates tweeted that they were relieved to hear McCann was fine, and indicated they would be happy to stage a rematch.
The TalkTV presenter had been due to co-host the debate alongside The Sun’s political editor Harry Cole, but he pulled out after testing positive for Covid.
Before it was halted, the latest televised debate between the two candidates had been covering tax, the state of the NHS and rising living costs.
They had been about to begin a section on the UK’s support for Ukraine when the debate went off air.
The candidates displayed a more conciliatory tone, in contrast to the fierce clashes that had marked Monday’s debate on BBC One.
Ms Truss repeated her charge that the former chancellor had been “morally wrong” to put up National Insurance.
She added that economic growth was “anaemic” and his plan to raise corporation tax next year would tip the UK economy into recession.
But Mr Sunak responded that the NI hike had been a “brave decision” to raise money for the NHS, and it was “entirely reasonable” to ask bigger companies to pay more to repair the public finances in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
In a pointed rejoinder, he said: “What’s morally wrong is asking our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab for the bills that we are not prepared to meet.”
There had been a much calmer tone to this debate, without quite as much of the spikiness seen in previous clashes.
Mr Sunak, in particular, seemed less on the attack than in the BBC debate, where he was accused by some of “mansplaining”.
When offered the chance to ask Rishi Sunak a question, Liz Truss noticeably swerved going for a personal blow, instead asking about the cost of living.
Mr Sunak used his question to mark the fact that it was Ms Truss’s birthday; a very different tone to when they were given the same opportunity on ITV a couple of weeks earlier.
The differences on the economy and taxation were still clear though, with both labelling the other’s strategy “morally wrong”.
Questions from Sun readers also took the debate further into policy areas they hadn’t debated as much before, such as the NHS and fracking.
A lot more of the policy, and less of the personal.
Ms Truss said putting up National Insurance was not needed to give the NHS money to help clear Covid backlogs, which she said could be funded through “general taxation”.
Asked how she would improve NHS services, the foreign secretary said she would cut down on layers of management and give NHS leaders “more power locally”.
Mr Sunak also set out his plan for healthcare, which involved increasing the number of “community hubs” for treatment and diagnosis.
Both contenders were challenged about what they would do to improve cancer treatment by an audience member with the disease who said he had been forced to receive help from a cancer charity.
John Hughes, in Birmingham, asked the candidates: “Why is the NHS broken?”
After Mr Sunak said he was glad he was getting “the support that you need,” Mr Hughes replied: “I’m not getting that, Mr Sunak.”
And while Ms Truss said she would give local leaders more power, Mr Hughes said the Conservatives had “had the chance already, and its still not enough for the NHS”.