Darlington residents will get the chance to hear from the two candidates battling to be the next Prime Minister next month.

The town will host a hustings debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss as part of a UK tour on the Conservative leadership campaign trail. It is the only event due to be hosted in the North East.

Read more: Rishi Sunak: The North Yorkshire MP who could be PM

A venue for the event on Tuesday, August 9, is yet to be revealed but the town's Hippodrome played host to a similar event between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in 2019.

It was there that current Tees Valley MPs’ Peter Gibson (Darlington) and Jacob Young (Redcar) appeared in campaign photos backing Boris Johnson to become leader.

The Northern Echo:

Local Conservative members are able to register for a ticket to the Darlington event, which costs £5, and will start at 7pm.

However, only eligible voting Conservative members are able to attend the event in person or online.

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak supported Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, to the reported dismay of David Cameron who saw him as one of the Conservatives’ brightest prospects among the new intake.

Given his first Government post – as a junior local government minister – by Mr Cameron’s successor, Theresa May, he was an early backer of Mr Johnson for leader when she was forced out amid the fallout over Brexit.

When Mr Johnson entered No 10 in July 2019, there was swift reward with a dramatic promotion to the Cabinet as treasury chief secretary.

An even bigger step up followed in February 2020 when chancellor Sajid Javid quit after rejecting a demand to sack all his advisers and Mr Sunak was put in charge of the nation’s finances, at the age of just 39.

Read more: Rishi Sunak mentions Darlington in interview about Scotland

The increasingly rapid spread of Covid-19 meant his mettle was swiftly tested. Within a fortnight of his first Budget he was effectively forced to rip up his financial plans as the country went into lockdown.

The new chancellor, who saw himself as a traditional small state, low tax Conservative, began pumping out hundreds of billions in government cash as the economy was put on life support.

But as the country emerged from the pandemic, some of the gloss began to wear off amid growing tensions with his neighbour in No 10 and anger among Tory MPs over rising taxes as he sought to rebuild the public finances.

The Northern Echo: Boris Johnson on the campaign trail at a Tory leadership hustings at Darlington Hippodrome Darlington. Picture: Tom BanksBoris Johnson on the campaign trail at a Tory leadership hustings at Darlington Hippodrome Darlington. Picture: Tom Banks

For Liz Truss, the highest office in the land is now within grasping distance, but she is no stranger to political transformations.

Having marched in her youth side-by-side with left-wingers to demand the ousting of Margaret Thatcher, she is now seen by supporters as the heir to the Iron Lady’s throne.

Liz Truss is now an avid Brexiteer, however she did campaign to Remain during the referendum. She shifted from arguing to stay in the EU at the 2016 referendum to become a strong defender of the decision to leave.

She inherited the role of Foreign Secretary in September after Dominic Raab was moved aside in the wake of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

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