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Spelling mistakes, bad internet connections and audio troubles as Tory leadership candidates take part in first public hustings

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The five remaining candidates attempting to become the Conservative Party’s next leader have taken part in their first public hustings – but the virtual proceedings were far from slick.

Rishi Sunak appeared at the event run by Conservative Home with a glaring spelling error over his shoulder.

A poster placed behind the former chancellor urged people to sign up and join his “campiaign”.

After the blunder was pointed out, Mr Sunak responded by posting a mock-up of his slogan, Ready For Rishi, on social media which read “Ready for spellcheck”.

Fellow leadership contestant Kemi Badenoch was beset by internet connection problems with her feed dropping out on numerous occasions.

Politics Hub: Latest reaction from Westminster as field to become next PM narrows

Meanwhile, at one stage Foreign Secretary Liz Truss forgot to un-mute herself before contributing.

Ms Truss did however commit to tax reform at the event.

She vowed to axe the scheduled corporation tax hike from 19% to 25% next year in her pitch for the Tory leadership.

“We immediately need to start putting money back into people’s pockets, we know families are struggling to make ends meet at the moment,” she said.

“I would reverse the national insurance rise, I opposed it in cabinet at the time because I thought it was a mistake, I think it’s even more of a mistake now when we’re facing such strong economic headwinds.

“I would also have a temporary moratorium on the green energy level to cut £153 from people’s energy bills.

“And I would also not do the corporation tax hikes because I think it’s vitally important that we’re attracting investment into our country.”

Elsewhere during the 75-minute virtual event, all five candidates – Mr Sunak, Ms Badenoch, Ms Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt – were asked what their greatest weakness was.

Ms Badenoch said she lets her sense of humour make it look like she is flippant about certain issues and is trying to be more careful with her words.

Mr Sunak responded by saying he lets “perfect be the enemy of the good” sometimes.

Ms Truss said sometimes she is “excessively enthusiastic” and needs to “rein herself in” and “not do too much” at times.

Meanwhile, Ms Mordaunt joked that her four Burmese cats could have been a problem with the Number 10 cat Larry.

She added that she wants to improve team-working within the party.

Mr Tugendhat replied that he is sometimes guilty of needing to think beyond the Armed Forces.

The Zoom debate was the first public hustings in the leadership contest.

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Tory candidates whittled down to five

The five remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership race are preparing to go head-to-head in live TV debates.

It comes after Mr Sunak came out on top in yesterday’s second ballot of Tory MPs – with Ms Mordaunt second and Ms Truss third.

Ms Badenoch and Mr Tugendhat are also still in the running, but Suella Braverman was knocked out.

Leadership rivals will face off in a live programme on Channel 4 later today, with another taking place on Sunday.

And Sky News will be hosting a debate on Tuesday night at 8pm – after more candidates have been eliminated through further rounds of voting in Westminster.

The final two leadership hopefuls will emerge by the end of next week and then face a summer of hustings – with Conservative Party members getting the chance to decide who should become the next prime minister.

A winner will be announced on 5 September.

Debate graphic

Sky News is hosting a live TV debate with the contenders vying to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore prime minister, and you could be in the virtual audience.

The debate will take place on Tuesday 19 July at 8pm.

If you would like to be a member of the virtual audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please email NewsDebates@sky.uk.

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