LONDON - Liz Truss will become Britain’s third female prime minister if she wins the Conservative leadership election, while rival Rishi Sunak hopes to be the first non-white incumbent in Downing Street.

The campaign, sparked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation in July, has highlighted the pair’s differing approaches to tackling the country’s spiralling cost of living crisis. Sunak, whose resignation as finance minister over a series of government scandals helped to spark the leadership contest, is considered a better public speaker.

But he has come under fire for clinging to fiscal orthodoxy to tackle runaway inflation and has been hamstrung by his image as a wealthy technocrat.

At the same time, he has faced accusations of treachery for bringing down the Tories’ Brexit hero Johnson.

Foreign Secretary Truss has in contrast emerged as favourite in the vote of grassroots Tory members, the result of which will be announced next Monday

“She’s a better politician,” said John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

“If you ask me what Liz Truss’s campaign was about I will immediately say to you: ‘a tax cut not a handout’. Very clear,” he told AFP. “There is no strapline for Sunak, nothing.”

For Curtice, Truss has effectively conveyed “traditional Conservative messages” to Tory members while Sunak has been more nuanced.

“It’s also a bit of a lecture,” he said, assessing that Sunak has come across as “a wee bit brittle” under pressure. “You can see that she’s been in the game for longer,” he added.