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ANDREW PIERCE: Election ‘practice’ that was perfect for Jeremy Hunt

As one opinion poll now puts Jeremy Hunt narrowly ahead of Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race, the Foreign Secretary has revealed it’s not the first time he has started as the underdog.

As the 2005 election loomed, Virginia Bottomley, a former Cabinet minister, announced that she was retiring as MP for South West Surrey.

Hunt, who had family connections in the constituency, decided to test the water and apply as a candidate.

‘But I didn’t really want to be selected because it was a highly marginal seat against the Lib Dems and I wasn’t ready for a big battle — and I wasn’t sure I would win it. I thought that I would get an interview and that it would be good practice.’

Conservative leadership hopeful Boris Johnson speaking during a hustings event in Birmingham on June 22

As one opinion poll now puts Jeremy Hunt narrowly ahead of Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race, the Foreign Secretary has revealed it’s not the first time he has started as the underdog, writes Andrew Pierce

When he delivered his speech at the selection meeting at a hotel in Farnham, Hunt said that he was ‘so nervous I was shaking, so I held on to the lectern, and then the lectern was shaking as well.

‘To my absolute horror, I was selected as the candidate,’ he told the local Farnham Herald newspaper.

The seat was top of the Liberal Democrats’ target list, as the Tory majority in 2001 was only 861 and they were fielding the same candidate against Hunt who had almost beaten Bottomley.

After a ‘gladiatorial battle’, he won with a 5,711 majority.

Hunt’s majority is now 21,590. In contrast, Boris Johnson’s majority in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency has fallen from almost 11,000 to about 5,000, making it a marginal seat.

 Tories keen to win Ann back

One of the final emails former minister Ann Widdecombe received from Conservative Party HQ was a terse message saying her membership was being terminated after 55 years as she was trying to become a Brexit Party MEP. 

Widders last week received another email from Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis, extolling the virtues of membership.

On the ball as ever: Ann’s now a Brexit Party MEP.

Karen’s Party trick falls flat

The Northern Ireland Office summer party for politicians from across the political divide could have been a highlight of the year.

But last week hapless Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley was forced to cancel it because no one was going to turn up.

When she was appointed in 2018, Bradley foolishly admitted she was unaware of the the most elementary fact of Northern Ireland politics: ‘that nationalists did not vote for unionists and that unionists did not vote for nationalists’.

Ruth Dudley Edwards, the distinguished Ulster commentator, said: ‘In her 18 months in office, she [Bradley] has united all the parties in the view that she is the worst and most ignorant Secretary of State ever.’

The Northern Ireland Office summer party for politicians from across the political divide could have been a highlight of the year, writes Andrew Pierce. (Pictured) Karen Bradley speaking to the media outside Stormont House on May 30 this year

The Northern Ireland Office summer party for politicians from across the political divide could have been a highlight of the year, writes Andrew Pierce. (Pictured) Karen Bradley speaking to the media outside Stormont House on May 30 this year

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is turning 12 miles of the capital into a no-car zone on Sunday, September 22 as part of his attempt to cut pollution. 

Yet blogger Guido Fawkes has revealed that Khan’s Deputy Mayor for the Environment, Shirley Rodrigues, racked up more than 54,000 air miles flying to places such as Bangalore, Mexico City and New York (x3) in three years. 

In a debate on anti-Semitism in the House of Lords last week, there was huge anticipation for the contribution of Labour’s Baroness Chakrabarti. 

She was elevated to the Lords by Jeremy Corbyn after her whitewash 2016 report on anti-Semitism for the party.

However, she did not speak. Her silence says it all.

In a policy commitment last week, Boris Johnson declared there would be fast internet for every home by 2025. ‘We will have to step up very substantially the rate at which we install full fibre — currently running at about 20,000 premises per week.

‘But this is not only a huge economic opportunity — it is part of our moral mission to unite Brexit Britain.’

Is this the same Boris who wrote a few years ago: ‘Important though the information superhighway may be, it hardly amounts to a credible cornerstone for an economic strategy.’

Overheard in a Commons bar. ‘Does the BBC now stand for the ‘Bash Boris Corporation?’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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