Mr Hunt and Mr Johnson are to clash during today’s hour-long debate broadcasted by ITV at 8pm. During the programme, the Tories will face questions on Brexit as well as two other subject areas. This heated clash marks the golden occasion for the Foreign Secretary to highlight any discrepancy or contradiction in Mr Johnson’s remarks and pledges, according to one close ally of Mr Hunt.
They said: “We’ve got one final shot, and that’s to plant serious doubt in members’ minds about Boris during the debate.
“That’s the only way Jeremy can catch him now, and even then it will be hard.”
Mr Hunt is still far behind in the polls, with the 160,000 Conservative Party members eligible to vote still indicating their clear favouritism for his adversary.
However, the Foreign Secretary claimed this picture doesn’t represent the real feelings of the country.
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Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson will face each other at tonight’s ITV debate
Speaking to The Sun, Mr Hunt said he could still catch Mr Johnson as the polls “don’t reflect what we’ve been seeing on the ground”.
He added: “My experience on the hustings is that people who see us one after the other think again.
“We’ve been getting a tremendous amount of switchers.
“In fact, I’d say we’ve been flooded with switchers.”
The Foreign Secretary also vowed to “hold to account” Mr Johnson during the debate, saying: “I want to hold Boris to account for the fact that he and his team have chosen to duck head to head debates until after many people have voted.
“That was the wrong thing to do.
“I will make sure this is not going to be a coronation, it’s going to be a contest.
“And if I have my way, we’ll turn it into an upset.”
Follow live updates on the Tory leadership contest below
9.10pm update: William Hague believes Tory leadership hopefuls should rule out dissolving Parliament to resolve Brexit deadlock
William Hague, the former leader of the Conservative Party, said both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson should rule out dissolving Parliament to get a no deal Brexit through.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Hague said: “He should rule it out.
“For a Conservative Government to go ahead with a no-deal Brexit, in defiance of the pleas of business and farming organisations, and increasing the risks to the union of the United Kingdom, and defying any attempts to have a vote in Parliament, would be an extraordinary combination of things to do, so yes I do think Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt should rule that out.”
Mr Hague also supported Dominic Grieve’s proposal of bringing forward the amendment against prorogation: “I think it’s very important that Parliament is able to give its opinion.
“It ought to be unthinkable that we could leave the EU by a manoeuvre, by a procedural ruse of some kind.
“While I don’t agree with everything Dominic has said or tried to do, I sympathise with attempts to ensure that Parliament can have its say.”
William Hague, former leader of the Conservative Party
8.45pm update: Nigel Farage’s party would not get any seats in Parliament if Boris Johnson became leader – shock poll
A ComRes poll showed that a third of those planning to vote for the Brexit Party would switch to the Conservative if Boris Johnson became the leader of his party.
Just six per cent would do the same if Jeremy Hunt becomes Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson would also annihilate the Brexit Party, according to this poll, which put the Conservatives at the next general election on 345 MPs, Labour 207 and the Brexit Party at none if Mr Johnson replaced Theresa May.
Under Mr Hunt, the Brexit Party would win 23 MPs while Labour would be 63 MPs short of a majority but would be the largest party.
Some 58 percent believe Mr Hunt would be the best Prime Minister and 63 percent said he was “best manage the economy”.
But Mr Johnson is more trusted to deliver Brexit by October 31 and reduce taxes as well as defeat Jeremy Corbyn.
Nigel Farage’s party would not gain any seats in Parliament if Boris Johnson became PM – shock poll
8.20am update: Boris Johnson’s claim over tehcnological fixes for Irish border blasted by British-Irish Chamber of Commerce
Boris Johnson has declared there are “abundant” technological fixes for the Irish border – but the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce said the idea of using technology to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “lacks credibility”.
Chamber report said: “There was a concern that the authors were over simplifying the problem and that there is an over reliance on goodwill and derogations from the EU.”
And senior Irish politicians including senator Neale Richmond, the chair of the Brexit committee in the Irish Dail, described the proposal as a “non-starter”.
He added: “It is not only premature, it is uncosted and unproven, with no real timeline.”
Boris Johnson said he is “thick-skinned”
7.50am update: Boris Johnson is ‘thick-skinned’ enough to resist personal attacks
The former Foreign Secretary said he is “thick-skinned” enough to bounce back any personal attacks people will throw at him once Prime Minister.
And he is ready to face the “hate” if this will allow him to deliver Brexit and rejuvenate the country.
Asked at an event in London if he is prepared to be “hated”, he said: ”It’s not just prepared. I’m already well accustomed to it.
“Believe me, I’m thick-skinned. I can be relied upon despite attacks on my character.”