Tory leadership LIVE: Hunt in push to legalise fox hunting as rivals unveil new pledges

Posted on Jul 4 2019 - 8:44am by admin

Former London mayor Mr Johnson has pledged to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers. And Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt admitted he would push to legalise fox hunting if he becomes prime minister.

The pair will go head-to-head today in the latest hustings event in Yorkshire and Humber.

Tory members will receive their postal ballots between July 6 and 8.

Voting closes on July 22 and the winner is expected to be announced the next day.

FOLLOW BELOW FOR LIVE UPDATES:

9.25am update: Hunt dodges fox hunting question three times in BBC interview

The Foreign Secretary refused to say whether he thought fox hunting was “cruel” during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, with presenter Mishal Husain accusing him of “swerving” the question.

Mr Hunt said: “I think this is just because I was giving a straight answer to a straight question.

“The law is not going to change on fox hunting. There isn’t a majority in the House of Commons and I don’t see there ever being one.

“I was restating the position in our 2017 manifesto that there should be a free vote if it ever looked like that majority would change. But, it wouldn’t be my priority as Prime Minister.”

9.10am update: Justice Secretary’s veiled attack on Johnson

David Gauke has attacked “populist politicians” in an apparent dig at Tory favourite Mr Johnson.

The Justice Secretary also admitted he “might only have three weeks” left in the job.

In a speech to the annual judges’ dinner in the City of London yesterday, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the forces of populism are much stronger in this country and internationally than has been the case for some time.

“A willingness by politicians to say what they think the public want to hear, and a willingness by large parts of the public to believe what they are told by populist politicians, has led to a deterioration in our public discourse.

“This has contributed to a growing distrust of our institutions – whether that be parliament, the civil service, the mainstream media or the judiciary.”

8.45am update: Hunt ‘best person’ to beat Corbyn

Tory leadership hopeful Mr Hunt has insisted he is the best person to beat Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “The Labour Party is offering a candidate for Prime Minister who is a profound and real danger not just to that office but to everything our country stands for.

“And that is the risk we take if we fail to deliver Brexit, as the British people have told us to do – opening the door to the most anti-Western, anti-British leader this country has ever seen.

“Because I will negotiate a deal to get us out of the EU without triggering an election, I am the best person to avert that real and present danger.”

8.30am update: Johnson pledges 20,000 extra police

Tory favourite Mr Johnson has promised to boost police numbers by 20,000 in three years if he becomes prime minister.

He said he will increase the police service to more than 140,000 officers by mid-2022 if he wins the race for Number 10.

Police officer numbers in England and Wales have dropped by more than 20,000 since 2009, with Home Office figures showing a reduction from 144,353 to 122,395 in 2018.

8.15am update: Hunt wants to bring back fox hunting

The Foreign Secretary said fox hunting should be made legal again because it is ”part of the countryside”.

He told The Telegraph: “I would as soon as there was a majority in Parliament that would be likely to repeal the fox hunting ban, then I would support a vote in Parliament.”

While he does not take part in the bloodsport himself, he added: “I would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting.

“It is part of the countryside. And we have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside. You know, it’s part of our heritage.”

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