Has he got Boris licked? Jeremy Hunt’s all-out charm offensive pays off as his popularity soars in latest polls – while wife Lucia joins him tucking into ice cream on the campaign trail
- Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt continuing to trade blows in Tory leader contest
- Mr Hunt has been out on the campaign trail in Bournemouth with his wife Lucia
- Foreign Secretary risked tucking into an ice cream in front of photographers
- The contenders will take part in latest hustings event in Bournemouth tonight
An increasingly bullish Jeremy Hunt was joined by wife Lucia on the campaign trail today – as poll suggested he is gaining ground.
The would-be PM has been enjoying the sunshine in Bournemouth as he prepares for another hustings showdown with rival Boris Johnson.
The frantic pace the self-confessed ‘underdog’ has set in the battle for the keys to Downing Street seems to be delivering results. Polls today found he had improved his standing among voters and Tory supporters – although he is still lagging with party members.
Despite the positive signs, Mr Hunt’s other half looked less than impressed with his technique as he risked guzzling down his cone in front of photographers.
Mr Hunt has been running a high-energy campaign as he tries to overhaul Mr Johnson’s advantage in the contest.
Jeremy Hunt tucked into an early-morning ice cream today as wife Lucia joined him on the Tory leadership campaign trail in Bournemouth (pictured)
Mr and Mrs Hunt looked to be having a good time as they soaked up the sunshine on the beach
An Ipsos Mori poll today suggested Mr Hunt is gaining ground on Mr Johnson on who the public think would make a good PM – although he still seems to be some way behind among the Tory members who will decide the winner
He has travelled around 2,000 miles in the past week and made a slew of TV appearances, while relentlessly trolling his competitor about his unwillingness to face scrutiny.
An Ipsos Mori poll for the Standard today found Mr Hunt is regarded as having what it takes to become a good PM by 31 per cent of the public – while 42 per cent said the opposite.
Remainer MPs launch latest bid to stop No Deal
Remainer MPs led by Tory Dominic Grieve and Labour’s Dama Margaret Beckett have launched a new bid to stop the UK from ever leaving the EU without a deal.
They have tabled an amendment, set to be voted on next week, which would stop a number of Whitehall departments from being given funding unless MPs have either agreed to a Brexit deal or agreed to the UK leaving the bloc without a deal.
Effectively, it would give MPs a veto over No Deal and the final say on how the UK leaves the bloc.
However, using departmental funding as leverage is likely to make some potential backers of the amendment queasy and may stop them from backing it.
MPs have already demonstrated that there is an anti-No Deal majority in the House of Commons, having previously won votes attempting to rule out such a split from the EU.
But the latest move is more aggressive than previous attempts and opinion is divided over whether enough Tory MPs will be willing to rebel to get it over the line.
If they do then it could represent a major headache for Boris Johnson if he is the next PM.
He has not ruled out suspending Parliament to stop MPs thwarting No Deal.
But if he tried to ignore the latest amendment, should it pass, it would likely spark a constitutional crisis.
Mr Johnson’s net rating was considerably worse on 34 per cent positive and 53 per cent negative.
But the bookies’ favourite has the advantage among Tory supporters, with 59 per cent thinking he has what it takes, compared to 53 per cent for Mr Hunt.
And Mr Johnson appears to be the overwhelming choice of party members, whose votes will decide the contest. The latest grass-roots ConservativeHome survey found he was backed by 65 per cent, and Mr Hunt 30 per cent – although he does seem to have gained some ground since the campaign kicked off for real last week.
Today Mr Hunt vowed to protect free TV licences for the over-75s as it was revealed almost all those to be stripped of the perk would refuse to pay.
Amid growing fury about the scandal, the Foreign Secretary says he will ensure elderly people don’t have to pay the £154.50 if he wins the race to be PM.
A new poll released today says that 85 per cent of over-75s would rather go to court than pay it.
And more than one million people have signed two online petitions opposing the move with pensioners holding protests outside BBC buildings around the UK.
Silver Voices director Dennis Reed told the Mirror: ‘Many will have to choose between heating, eating and what is often their main form of company, TV.’
Mr Hunt last night pledged to ‘honour’ his commitment for the over-75s if he comes out on top of the Tory leadership contest.
‘I don’t mind the BBC having responsibility for this, I just think we made a manifesto commitment and we don’t want to start breaking it,’ he told the Daily Express.
It comes after the BBC sparked outrage by saying it can no longer afford to hand out the free package.
A poll today revealed that 85 per cent of senior citizens would refuse to pay for their TV licence.
Hunt was Culture Secretary when the government stopped funding the free licence, but claims he handed the broadcaster ‘enough money’ to keep them going, the Daily Express reports.
Mr Hunt and Boris Johnson (pictured in Westminster this morning) are due to take part in the latest hustings event in Bournemouth tonight
Mr Hunt and wife Lucia (pictured centre together) strolled along the seafront in Bournemouth this morning
PM candidate Jeremy Hunt chatted happily with locals on his visit to Bournemouth today