Tory leadership debate halted after presenter faints in studio
Tonight’s Conservative Party leadership debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak was halted after presenter Kate McCann fainted during the live broadcast.
Ms Truss held her hands to her face and said “oh my God” after a loud crash was heard – and then the contest was taken off air.
TalkTV said Ms McCann is “fine” but that the channel had been given medical advice not to continue.
“We apologise to our viewers and listeners,” it added in a statement.
As the debate was halted a message on TalkTV and The Sun’s stream read: “We’re sorry for the disruption to this programme.”
The channel started broadcasting again shortly afterwards but cut to a different studio with presenter Ian Collins saying there had been a “medical issue”.
He said: “Everyone is OK so that is the good news. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are still currently in the studio chatting with readers and answering those questions.”
A Sun spokeswoman confirmed the incident was paused over a “medical issue”, adding: “We hope to be back on air soon.”
But TalkTV later tweeted that Ms McCann, their political editor, was not expected back on air.
Ms McCann was meant to appear alongside The Sun’s political editor Harry Cole, but he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier today.
He tweeted to say he was “very proud” of his friend, who he said was “absolutely bossing it”.
Rishi Sunak has also sent his well-wishes to the presenter, tweeting: “Good news that you’re already recovering @KateEMcCann.
“It was a great debate and I look forward to getting grilled by you again shortly.”
And Liz Truss said: “Relieved to hear Kate McCann is fine. Really sorry that such a good debate had to end. Look forward to catching up with Kate and the rest of the team again soon.”
The incident came as Mr Sunak and Ms Truss were clashing once again over taxes, NHS funding and the economy in their second head-to-head televised debate.
The programme saw the pair take questions from Sun readers, with a cancer patient asking what could be done to fix the “broken” NHS and a struggling mum questioning if she should go vegetarian because of the rising price of meat.
Taxes and the economy caused the most acrimony.
Mr Sunak said he was “brave” to introduce a £12bn tax increase to pay for health social care, telling the audience: “I made sure we got the NHS the funding it needed to help work through the backlogs, get everyone the care they needed and do that as quickly as possible.
“It wasn’t an easy thing for me to do, I got a lot of criticism for it, but I believe it was the right thing to do as I don’t think we can have an NHS which is ultimately the country’s number one public service priority that is underfunded and not able to deliver the care it needs.”
Raising taxes ‘morally wrong’
But Ms Truss, who has pledged to immediately reverse the national insurance hike if she becomes prime minister, said it is “morally wrong” to raise taxes during a cost of living crisis.
She said she was committed to the extra money that was announced for the NHS but that she would fund this through general taxation.
She said: “Under my plans, we will still be able to start paying the debt down within three years, so it is affordable.
“We didn’t need to raise national insurance in order to pay, we did have that money available in the budget, it was a choice to break our manifesto commitment and raise national insurance.”
However, Mr Sunak quickly shot back, saying it was “morally wrong” to heap more debt on future generations because “we can’t be bothered to pay it off” now.
On how to fund things like public services, he said it was “entirely reasonable” to ask the largest companies to pay “a bit more” in corporation tax because they received billions in support to help them stay afloat during the pandemic.
But Liz Truss, who wants to scrap the scheduled 19p to 25p increase in corporation tax, said Mr Sunak’s policies would make the UK less competitive and push the country into recession.
Cost of living
Tax has become the clear dividing line between the two Tory leadership contenders, with Mr Sunak advocating prudence with the nation’s finances and Ms Truss pledging tax cuts of more than £30bn.
Mr Sunak conceded more support would be needed to help families pay their bills in October, when the energy price cap is predicted to go up once again. But he stopped short of announcing any new help.
Ms Truss, meanwhile, said she would scrap the green levy on energy bills to help struggling households.
While tonight’s debate was acrimonious at times, it wasn’t as heated as last night’s showdown on the BBC, which saw Mr Sunak accused of “mansplaining” by allies of Ms Truss after he repeatedly talked over her.
Tory MPs are said to be concerned the contest is becoming “far too nasty” after the two sides traded increasingly personal attacks over the weekend.
With postal ballots set to arrive on Tory members’ doorsteps by 5 August, Mr Sunak needs good performances in the remaining debates and the early hustings.
Opinion polls and member surveys have suggested that he trails Ms Truss in the battle to win the votes of card-carrying Conservatives, with the foreign secretary the bookmakers’ favourite to be elected as Tory leader on 5 September.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will take part in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday 4th August at 8pm hosted by Kay Burley.
If you would like to be a member of the live studio audience and be in with a chance of asking a question, please apply here.