The Foreign Secretary faced questions over the abandonment of her policy on regional public sector pay during the first part of the grilling, before later getting cheers from the audience when she refused to apologise to Nicola Sturgeon for saying she should be “ignored”.
Burley put a final question to the candidate, saying: “You were a Remainer, and now you’re not. You supported Brits to fight in Ukraine, then you didn’t. You wanted to build on the Green belt and now you don’t.
“You wanted to abolish the monarchy and now you don’t. You wanted to arm Taiwan and now I’m not sure whether you’re saying you do or not.
“You wanted to cut civil servants pay in the regions and then you said you didn’t. Will the real Liz Truss please stand up?”
In response, Truss argued that she didn’t come from a traditional Conservative background, having gone on CND marches with her parents before joining the LibDems as a teenager.
“I’m not sure how much I should be held to account for things I said when I was 18 or 19,” she told Burley – despite a number of her examples being significantly more recent than that.
“Show me somebody who has the same views at 19 and 49, and I’ll show you somebody is not capable of original thought,” she told the audience.
Diplomatic scholar Dr Jennifer Cassidy said the exchange had been “excruciating” to watch.
“Kay Burley needed to say it,” she noted.
“Just the second hand embarrassment is painfully real.”
Author Edwin Hayward added: “This is like watching a combo finishing move in a fighting video game. Kay Burley absolutely pummelled Liz Truss, and rightly so.”
Internationalist campaigners Best for Britain added that Burley was “wiping the floor” with Truss during the debate – particularly as she pressed the candidate to explain how the press was “misrepresenting” her position on regional public sector pay.
At the end of the night, Burley asked the audience for a show of hands on whether Truss or competitor Rishi Sunak had won their support.
Despite Sunak trailing Truss in the official polls among Tory members, he appeared to have the most backing from those in the studio.
On Friday morning Lord Robert Hayward, a Conservative peer and elections analyst, said Sunak’s performance caused “a stop in terms of the momentum in one direction” of the campaign he said had recently been going in Truss’s favour.
Speaking to Sky News, Lord Hayward said: “There’s no question in my mind and the vote of the audience, it was the first time that he had clearly led in a debate.”
He added: “Liz has had the best of the last few days, no question about it, with the series of endorsements from different major personalities. I think what happened last night was there was a stop in terms of the momentum in one direction.
“It won’t necessarily have reversed it, but there will be this morning a different sense of messaging that is around.”
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