Tory leadership LIVE: 'Don't bottle it!' Race turns fiery as Hunt lashes out at Johnson

Posted on Jun 22 2019 - 8:25pm by admin

The pair will square off in the first one-on-one hustings, with a debate in front of Tory members in Birmingham. It follows a day of chaos for the Tory party, with several scandals threatening to derail the contest. Yesterday was dominated by Mark Field and the video of him confronting a climate change protestor at Thursday’s Mansion House speech by Philip Hammond.

And late last night it emerged police had been called to the home of Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds after a neighbour became concerned after hearing an argument.

Today the focus will shift back to politics and policy.

The pair will clash from 3pm to 5pm at the Birmingham hustings.

Follow our live updates below.

2.00pm update – More from Hunt’s speech 

Mr Hunt warned sending “the wrong person” to Brussels – a thinly-veiled dig at Mr Johnson – could scupper any goodwill the UK has left with the EU.

He said at the Conservative Progress earlier: “If we send the wrong person out as our PM there will be no trust, no negotiation, no deal – and if Parliament forces a general election no Brexit.

“Send the right person and it can be totally different because what [good] negotiators do is they take a set of bad choices and turn them into good choices.”

12.55pm update – Amber Rudd pokes fun at Boris

Amber Rudd has poked fun at Johnson’s refusal to attend a Sky News debate, withdrawing an earlier joking bid to stand-in for him.

Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd had joked she would replace Mr Johnson in last week’s Channel 4 debate.

She said: “If Boris doesn’t want to do Sunday – I’m very much available to step in for him.”

Today she shared Mr Hunt’s invitation to Mr Johnson and said on Twitter: “For the record, I’m NOT available as a stand in this time.

“I agree with @Jeremy_Hunt: if you want the job, you have to turn up for the interviews.”

12.30pm update – Redmond reveals Johnson speech details

John Redmond has revealed what Boris Johnson discussed during a dinner with Conservatives in Wokingham.

The Brexiteer MP said the speech earlier this week was “well received”.

He wrote on his blog: “On Thursday night Boris came to dinner with Conservatives in the mid Berkshire area at a function organised by Reading West Conservatives and held in the Wokingham constituency.

“He gave a wide ranging speech full of positives for our future once out of the EU which was well received by the Conservative members present from several local constituencies.

“He is keen to see better education from higher per pupil funding, faster broadband and better roads and railway investments.”

11.45am update – ‘Don’t bottle it!’

Mr Hunt has lashed out at Mr Johnson, urging the PM hopeful not to “bottle” a TV debate.

He took to Twitter to share a letter he had written to Mr Johnson, urging him to agree to an early debate.

He said: “Let’s have live televised debates right at the start of this contest, and specifically at least two in the next two weeks before members receive their ballot papers.

“I will debate you anytime, anywhere live on TV.”

He said failing to do so would mean Tory members would be forced to cast their postal ballots before the pair could clash on the ITV debate on July 9.

11.30am update: Hunt lands sly dig on Corbyn

Mr Hunt has urged Tory members to “choose our own Jeremy” – a not-so-subtle dig at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He drew applause and laughter with the gag while speaking at the Conservative Progress summit this morning.

More to follow…

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