Mr Hunt, who has the support of just 26 percent of eligible voters, urged party members not to vote until after two television events, including a head-to-head debate on ITV, go out next week. He said: “The big message I want to give to Conservative Party members is wait to see me and Boris in action on the TV debates. Try before you buy. There’s a lot of switching going on now they’ve got the bigger picture, that’s causing people to think — yes, they want Brexit but they want a vision beyond Brexit.”
Wait to see me and Boris in action on the TV debates. Try before you buy
Tuesday night’s debate on ITV is followed on Friday when Andrew Neil interviews both candidates consecutively on the BBC.
But the YouGov/Times survey of 908 Tory members between July 1 and 5 shows Mr Hunt faces an enormous challenge to overhaul his rival with Brexit still the main issue.
The poll showed 90 percent believe that Mr Johnson will force through a no deal Brexit but only 27 per cent think that Mr Hunt would do the same.
An overwhelming majority — 77 per cent — think that Mr Johnson’s private life is irrelevant to his performance as prime minister.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt
Boris Johnson on a visit to Glasgow
And with both candidates unveiling a raft of spending commitments, 52 percent agree a new government should borrow more to increase spending after Brexit and 41 percent want the present limits maintained.
The YouGov/Times poll was published as ballot papers for the leadership election were sent out and it emerged a number of Conservative members have received multiple forms.
The BBC, citing a party source, said more than 1,000 people could have more than one ballot paper.
It said those affected could include people who joined their local Conservative party at their home and work address or others who have changed their name. Party chiefs said anyone voting twice will be expelled.
Jeremy Hunt has a mountain to climb to beat Boris to Number 10
Former Cabinet minister Sir Patrick McLoughlin, who is chairing Mr Hunt’s campaign, said the issue has “got to be looked at” but said he expected Tory members to follow the rules and vote just once.
Sir Patrick, a former Conservative chairman, told the BBC’s Today programme: “It’s made very clear on the ballot paper that you are only allowed to vote once. I expect Conservative members to follow that.
“If people have joined two associations they may get two ballot papers. I get two ballot papers in elections because I am on two different sets of electoral registers, it doesn’t mean that I vote twice, I don’t.
“It can’t be clearer, it’s right there on the ballot paper saying that you must only vote on one occasion and I expect people to do that”.
The vote closes on July 22 and the result will be revealed a day later.
Theresa May will take her final Prime Minister’s Questions on July 24 and hand over to the contest winner that afternoon.
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1.22pm update: Hunt says social care and policing ‘went too far’
He told a hustings in Nottingham: “I believe that we did the right thing because we had to put the economy back on its feet, we had the worst financial crisis since the Second World War.”
But he added that “in a couple of specific areas, the cuts went further than we anticipated”.
He said: ”I have been clear that we do have some headroom in our national finances that would allow us to find extra funding for those public services.”
“If we had a no-deal Brexit, then those resources initially will need to go to supporting businesses that are affected by dramatic changes in tariffs, but hopefully we can get a deal and then we can start to address some of those issues.”
Mr Hunt said “I think I can” match Mr Johnson’s plan to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers.
Jeremy Hunt addresses the Nottingham hustings
12.33pm update: Duncan Smith hits back at “political nervous breakdown” warning
Tory Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith has lashed out claims of Whitehall insiders plotting against Brexit after ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers warned Britain was suffering a “political nervous breakdown”.
Mr Duncan Smith, who is chairman of Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, hit back saying: “I think he is the one going through a political nervous breakdown.
“I’m certainly not going through one, and neither is my party.
“I understand the expression of democracy may frighten him.
“When he said that the decision to leave the EU, that it was a mistake to hold it over to the British public, that was an expression of shocking anti-democratic thought.
“The truth is – we have not delivered on what the British people voted for.”
Iain Duncan Smith
12.11pm update: Johnson challenged over “letterbox” comments
Boris Johnson has been challenged about his newspaper column comparing veiled Muslim women to letterboxes and asked how he could represent minority groups having made such “derogatory and arguably racist” comments.
The former foreign secretary told a hustings in Nottingham: “If you look at that article … it was a strong, liberal defence of the right of women to wear the burka.”
He said he had been mayor of London, the “city that is the most diverse on earth”.
He said: ”What we want is a modern British culture in which we value each other, in which we respect each other and in which we – I think tolerate is too feeble a word – love each other in a Christian spirit, or a non-Christian spirit, whatever.
“That should be our general approach and I think the British people get it.
“That’s what we should radiate from the modern Conservative Party and I think we do.”
Boris Johnson supporters have made him clear favourite to become Tory leader
10am update: Duncan Smith issues ballot paper warning
Boris Johnson’s campaign chairman Iain Duncan Smith has warned Tory party bosses they need to make sure they address the problem of multiple ballot papers being given to members.
Mr Duncan Smith said: ”Obviously there is an issue here, I accept that.
“In all elections there are issues about this, where people are registered separately, and in the ballot papers it’s quite clear: that you are not to vote more than once.
“But it’s clear that the Conservative Party needs to continue to do some work and look into how they can actually sift this properly so that they recognise who is who.”
9.30am update: Britain suffering a “political nervous breakdown”
Britain is going through a “political nervous breakdown” with anxiety in Whitehall about the outcome of the Tory leadership contest and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, according to a former MI6 chief has claimed.
Sir John Sawers said the Brexit debate has left the country deeply divided and damaged the UK’s standing on the world stage, while the political turmoil in Westminster is adding to concerns about the direction the country is heading in.
In an extraordinary intervention, Sir John said the UK could have a prime minister who does “not have the standing that we have become used to in our top leadership”.
The former spymaster’s comments came after reports that Boris Johnson had classified material withheld from him while he was foreign secretary – a claim dismissed by the Tory leadership front-runner – and while an investigation is under way into comments attributed to senior civil servants about whether Mr Corbyn’s health would prevent him leading the country.
Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ”We are going through a political nervous breakdown here in the UK.”