LIZ Truss will be publicly grilled by Tory members tonight for the first time since u-turning on plans to slash public sector pay.
The runaway favourite to be PM will face off with card carrying Conservatives at 7pm in Cardiff, where the third of 16 leadership hustings is due to take place.
Her rival Rishi Sunak will be quizzed live too.
The pair are likely to be grilled on the issues of devolution, levelling up and cutting taxes.
The event comes as a new survey by YouGov published yesterday found 69 per cent of Tory members want the Foreign Secretary to be the next PM, while only 31 per cent back the ex-Chancellor.
On Tuesday Ms Truss suffered an embarrassing blow after she u-turned on a pledge to replace national pay deals with regional pay boards.
The Foreign Secretary vowed to make £8.8 billion of savings in the civil service by basing public sector pay on the local areas where workers live.
But Tory MPs slammed the idea as anti-levelling up, arguing it would widen regional inequality and punish hard-up Brits in deprived areas the most.
They also claimed that to make the savings, Ms Truss would have to slash the pay of hero nurses, teachers and police officers.
The leadership frontrunner complained she was the victim of a “wilful misrepresentation” before backtracking on her campaign’s idea.
Defending Ms Truss on LBC this morning, sidekick Brandon Lewis said: “What Liz was looking at yesterday and what the campaign was looking at is what you do in new contracts as people come in.
“But look, she made it very clear yesterday, we’re not taking this forward, this isn’t something that’s going to happen.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to woo Welsh Tories, Mr Sunak this morning vowed to open a second Freeport in Wales if made PM.
The ex-Chancellor said: “Freeports are truly transformative to the areas and communities they serve.
“I am delighted to support a second freeport in Wales – bringing with it investment, innovation and growth. I am determined to ensure that the whole of the UK can reap this benefit of Brexit.”
The red meat policy promise comes as Mr Sunak finds himself trailing Ms Truss in the polls by a whopping 34 points.