As part of our efforts to keep abreast of current affairs, members of our policy and health teams attended the Conservative Leadership Hustings ahead of the announcement of the new Prime Minister. Louis Hunt-Cole gives his account of the evening.
Super over? Far from it. In a week which saw seven weeks of the cricket world cup decided by one ball; the arrival of the Conservative leadership contest to London for the final hustings of the campaigns felt more like a procession to office for Boris Johnson than a contest that still hung firmly in the balance.
The first candidate up, Boris Johnson. Introduced by Liz Truss; she spoke with passion and optimism about the prospects and opportunities that Boris Johnson will bring not only to the Conservative Party but to the country as well. Making reference to the location of the evening’s proceedings, the London Docklands is an area of London that has been revitalised and re-energised over recent years, something which the Conservative Party is in dire need of. With the resurgence of the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party poised to pounce these comparisons were loaded with the caveat that the only candidate left in the contest who could pump energy back into the party was Boris Johnson.
Boris, expect the unexpected. We have seen him stuck dangling from a zip wire, clatter into small children in a game of rugby and now stand on stage at his final opportunity to woo party members and waft a kipper in the air and create his own polling data about the Conservative Party on the spot. He spoke about the need to unite and come together in the face of the Labour Party and their threat of nationalisation to the tune of £300 billion, and how the wealth generators living in the United Kingdom need to be supported. Boris gave further reassurances on the need to deliver Brexit and this should be done with or without a deal and most certainly without the infamous backstop.
You do not make the final two candidates of a leadership election unless you are good, and you only have to take one look at Jeremy Hunt’s parliamentary resume to see why he remains. Positions in the Cabinet that most recently include Secretary of State for Health and currently Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt certainly has the political experience. On stage he seemed to ooze in confidence, setting out his stool for the future of the conservative party and the United Kingdom. Cuts to corporation tax down to 12.5%, abolish illiteracy something still prevalent throughout our society and to put 1.5 million people on the housing ladder were among the ideas he set out. He went further to appeal to young voters by suggesting he would scrap the 6 % interest rates on student loans, a demographic the Conservative party most certainly needs to appeal to if it has any plans of winning future elections. There was no controversy, there was no feeling of confusion around what Hunt’s Conservative Party would stand for, in fact, it was a well-constructed final attempt to garner as much support as possible in the final few days of the leadership campaign.
You have to feel under different circumstances, Jeremy Hunt would still be in other leadership elections, however he has come up against the blonde bombshell of Boris Johnson and unlike three years ago sensed this was his best opportunity at becoming Prime Minster and despite the hiccups his campaign has faced along the way, nobody was going to stop Boris this time around, perhaps.
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