iz Truss has vowed to clamp down on what she called “unfair protests” and “militant trade unions” after five protesters disrupted her on stage, shouting “shame on you”.
The protesters were kicked out of a televised hustings in Eastbourne after disrupting the event to call for a ‘Green New Deal’.
The Foreign Secretary, and front-runner in the race, described them as “infiltrators”.
She said: “Can I just say a few words on the militant people who try and disrupt our country and who try and disrupt our democratic process and try and disrupt our essential services.
“I would legislate immediately to make sure that we are standing up to militant trade unions who stop ordinary commuters getting into work. And I would legislate to protect our essential services.”
She added: “And I will make sure that militant activists such as Extinction Rebellion, are not able to disrupt ordinary people who work hard and do the right thing and go into work.
“I will never ever, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unfair protests.”
Activists with the group Green New Deal Rising stood on chairs to demand “a Green New Deal now”, and to call for “fair jobs, fair pay, adequate housing and necessary policy”.
Ms Truss was briefly heckled again by another protester while taking questions from the audience, with the Foreign Secretary saying she “takes it as a compliment”.
In a statement about the protest, one of those involved, Fatima Ibrahim, claimed Ms Truss “has nothing credible to say in response to the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis”.
“As young people who are scared for our futures, we desperately need a green new deal and political leadership to meet this moment of crisis rather than this sideshow,” she said.
Green New Deal Rising said the activists took the action to protest the rising cost of energy bills and the climate crisis.
The group said they were acting after energy companies BP, Shell and Centrica announced record-breaking profits amid soaring energy bills.
Ms Truss was endorsed by MP Nus Ghani, who told Tory members that because of her role as the vice-chairwoman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, she had not been able to back a candidate until this stage of the race.
She said: “It’s Liz that is going to bring us together.”
The former chancellor Rishi Sunak was introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who told members Mr Sunak is the best candidate to “beat Keir Starmer and to win the next election”.
Mr Sunak said he believed the party needed to control inflation in order to win a fifth term.
He said: “Well, the first thing we need to do in order to make sure we can win that election is have got through this inflation problem by then.
“And that’s why I’m particularly worried about policies that risk making it worse and last longer.
“Because this is a problem that isn’t just for this winter. It’s a problem for next winter as well, and beyond.