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The London hustings was the final opportunity for Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson to publicly battle to be our next Prime Minister. A week before the new leader is to be sworn in, they met in front of 6,000 Conservative members.
Crowds swamped the entrance, giving away goodies which even include Boris themed pyjamas. At the entrance, I saw former Basildon mayor, David Dadds (pictured above), who is supporting Mr Hunt. Chelmsford MP, Vicky Ford told also supports Mr Hunt. She told me:
“I’m backing Jeremy Hunt because he’s the man with the detailed plan on how to actually deliver Brexit.
“He’s also the person with the detailed plan for getting our economy going. And the person on the social mission to make sure our young people have the skills they need.
“Jeremy Hunt is the man who’s trusted and competent on the international stage. “
It is, of course, a coincidence that the two Essex representatives I spoke to support Jeremy Hunt. There is plenty of support for both men, even if Boris Johnson seems to be ahead.
The hustings host, LBC’s Iain Dale, chaired the event fairly, giving members the opportunity to speak and to be scrutinised.
He interviewed both candidates and took audience questions too. Both Hunt and Johnson outlined their plans for Brexit and beyond. The candidates agreed on some issues: they are both feminists, they both want to spend money and they both condemned Trump’s recent “go home” comment. However, both candidates refused to describe the President as racist.
Johnson presented a fish on stage, as the punchline of a gag where he promised to take voters back from UKIP.
Hunt criticised Cameron’s government (who, of course, he served under). The Foreign Secretary said that cuts in policing and social care went too far. He criticised all women shortlists, saying, “no matter who you are, your background, your sexuality or your sex, we are the party of meritocracy”. Johnson also spoke against introducing quotas to increase gender representation.
Johnson took the opportunity to attack London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. He described him as “useless” and “completely invertebrate”. He also took the opportunity to criticise the Shadow Chancellor, describing John McDonnell as “so left wing he was sacked by Ken Livingstone”, before calling him a “Marxist”.
The next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister will be announced next week.