British Conservative leader Liz Truss received another heavyweight boost today as Tory MPs began a month of voting to determine the next occupant of 10 Downing Street.

Ms Truss’ trailblazing rival Rishi Sunak has been fighting to catch up with a plan for future tax cuts – and possibly fund the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Britain after England won the European Championship.

Ms Truss attended last night’s final against Germany, the first win by any English football team in a major tournament since 1966, which swept Mr Sunak’s long-term plan to cut taxes from every front page except The Daily Telegraph.

The Conservative Party candidates battled each other in a member’s battle in the south-west city of Exeter today – the second of 12 such events before the winner is announced on September 5.

Mr Sunak, a polished debater, needs to restore momentum after Ms Truss took a strong lead in the polls on a platform of immediate tax cuts to tackle Britain’s worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahavi has joined other luminaries in Boris Johnson’s cabinet in backing the foreign secretary against Mr Sunak, his predecessor at the Treasury.

“Liz understands that the status quo is not an option during a crisis,” Mr Zahavi wrote in the Telegraph, attacking Mr Sunak’s plan to prioritize tackling inflation now before cutting taxes later .

“We need a pro-growth attitude to the economy, not a doomsday attitude, to address cost-of-living issues and issues on the world stage,” the new chancellor said.

Mr Sunak’s resignation from Mr Johnson’s scandal-plagued cabinet helped spark the cabinet exodus that forced the prime minister out of office last month.

As they began receiving their postal and online ballots, a large proportion of the Tories’ estimated 200,000 members, pollsters say, harbored resentment towards Mr Sunak – something shared by Mr Johnson.

The prime minister is not officially taking sides, but has told aides he intends to offer some advice to his successor “whoever she is,” the Sunday Times reported.

Despite support from Mr Zahavi, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, former Northern Ireland Secretary Brendan Lewis and Tory centrist Tom Tugendhat, Ms Truss warned against complacency.

Heading into the meeting in Exeter, the foreign secretary markedly improved her sometimes robotic public speaking – most infamously in 2014 when she was environment secretary.

Returning to his old turf, the Remainer-turned-Brexit fanatic vowed last weekend to “untie” farmers from European Union rules to improve Britain’s food security.

Ms Truss has also vowed to tackle agricultural labor shortages, caused in part by post-Brexit immigration restrictions that have forced British farmers to leave rotten fruit in their fields and slaughter healthy pigs.

And Ms Truss unveiled an education plan, promising that all pupils with the best grades would automatically be invited to apply to Oxford, Cambridge or other prestigious universities.

Both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak went to Oxford – in her case after attending a state school in the northern city of Leeds, which she says failed too many pupils by failing to push them to excel.

Both contenders have stressed the need for unity once the election is over, aware that the opposition Labor Party is riding high in the polls amid an economic crisis and Mr Johnson’s political upheaval.

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