Hours before last night’s Tory leadership hustings got underway in Cheltenham, voters in the sun-drenched spa town had their say on the battle for No10 – and the outgoing Prime Minister.
Iftikhar Ahmed, 64, a restaurateur, said: “Boris shouldn’t have been there in the first place, I never ever liked the guy or trusted him.
“You’ve only got to look at his background, he’s a mini Donald Trump, he talks quicker than he can possibly think.
“I want Rishi to win because he looked after me in the pandemic.
“I run restaurants and without his help we would have struggled, maybe to the point of going bust.
“He was very astute and moved off the mark very quickly; he does seem to be a man of his word.
“He’s not going to cut tax, which I think is the right thing – we all want to pay less tax but we’ve got to pay for that pandemic; we’ve got to make a start somewhere, we can’t just put our heads in the sand.”
Chloe Robinson, 39, a part-time teacher, said: “They should be talking more about the energy crisis and setting out more assistance for people from poorer families and poorer backgrounds – winter is going to come round very quickly.
“I’m going to struggle to heat my home.
“I have to say I loved Boris, he had lots of personality and wasn’t afraid to speak out.”
Heather Mason-Jones, 43, said: “I haven’t watched anything of the contest.
“I think we are a bit of a lost cause as a country, which makes me very sad.
“I’ve been brought up in a Tory household – I was the Maggie Thatcher era.
“I know there’s a lot of opposition to Maggie Thatcher but there were also a lot of things she did right.
“I feel a little bit down about the political system and how it is at the moment.”
Ms Jones, a police officer, added: “The police are in dire straits at the moment – we are overworked, we can’t provide a service to people like we would like and it’s becoming very corporate.
“I would like something done about that in the sense of more police officers on the streets.”
Peter Quigley, 74, who runs a tour company, said: “I’m sure they leave universities with the best intentions of changing the world for the better, but apart from the odd exception they all end up pigs in the trough – and Boris was the lead pig.
“I have got no time for them whatsoever, I wish I could vote now and vote Labour.
“Three or four months ago I would have said I preferred Sunak to Truss, but now I think I’d say her – she comes across as more amenable, she seems to be saying the right things about helping people with the cost of living crisis, she seems to be planning tax cuts while he doesn’t seem to be amenable to that.”
His wife Marilyn Quigley, 74, said: “I was definitely with the fella for quite a while but in the last week I’ve changed my mind.
“Everything she says seems to be better than his ideas, she is more in touch with people.
“Boris was a buffoon and I’m glad he’s going, I found him embarrassing.”
Cheltenham is a key marginal battleground between the Conservatives and Lib Dems
The Tories currently hold the Gloucestershire seat, with MP Alex Chalk winning a narrow majority of just 981 in 2019
The Lib Dems held the constituency from 1997 to 2015
Cheltenham is a bellwether for the Lib Dems and the party needs to win it at the next election to demonstrate it is enjoying a revival in its former South West heartlands
The average house price in the Regency spa town is £368,649, according to RightMove.