Pictures: Boris Johnson hits York – and takes on Jeremy Hunt in battle to be Prime Minister

Boris Johnson and supporters outside the York Barbican. Photographs: Joe Giddens / PA Wire
4 Jul 2019 @ 10.26 pm
| News

The Boris Johnson roadshow returned to York today as he took on Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership hustings.

Mr Johnson’s supporters gathered outside the Barbican Centre, which hosted the event, and he signed a pledge to get Britain out of the EU by October 31.

During the hustings Mr Johnson claimed that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the Government would be able to draw on the £39 billion saved from the UK’s “divorce” settlement with the EU to spend on other priorities.

Mr Johnson arriving at the Barbican Centre

“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we will have an additional £39 billion to spend,” he said.

Mr Johnson also issued a sharp warning to ministers that he would not brook any dissent over the commitment to take Britain out of the EU by October 31, with or without a deal.

“What I wouldn’t accept is people actively dissenting in public from that policy and undermining it,” he said.

He also acknowledged it would be a “stretch” to meet his latest leadership campaign pledge to boost police numbers by 20,000 within three years.

“It will be a stretch. You can do about 7,000 or 8,000 a year, it is a stretch. They will come from all over the country,” he said.

“But there’s an imperative to do it. I’ve talked already today to Nick Hurd, the policing minister, and he’s confident we can do it.”

Meanwhile Mr Johnson’s rival Jeremy Hunt suggested he would ease pressure on the social care system by creating incentives for people to look after elderly relatives in the family home.

Appearing at the hustings, the Foreign Secretary said there were already 420,000 three-generation households with children, parents and grandparents living under the same roof.

Jeremy Hunt at the hustings at the Barbican Centre
The Foreign Secretary addresses the York gathering
Mr Hunt’s wife Lucia in the Barbican audience

He said:

  • I am not saying we all want to live with our mother-in-law. But I think that three-generation families are a wonderful thing.

    If you look at Spain and Italy, where they spend less on social care than us but they don’t have a social care crisis, it is because they are societies that hold families together.

    As the party of the family, I think we should look to see if we could introduce incentives for that as well.

The verdict

Signing the pledge in York
Conservative Party members leaving the latest leadership hustings have said they were impressed by Jeremy Hunt’s honesty over issues such as the foreign aid budget and fox hunting but believed Boris Johnson was the most likely to secure Brexit.

Mr Hunt, who appeared on stage second on Thursday evening, wooed a number of waverers in the York Barbican when he stayed in the foyer after the main event debating points and posing for selfies.

William Reed, 16, from Beverley, said he chatted to the Foreign Secretary about Saudi Arabia and foreign aid.

Earlier in the evening, the biggest applause in the packed auditorium was for a questioner who suggested the foreign aid budget might be better spent on helping homeless veterans.

Mr Hunt started his reply by saying he might disappoint many in the audience with his answer.

Mr Reed said: “I will vote for Jeremy Hunt because of the foreign aid point.

“I’m no great supporter of fox hunting but both points show that he’s prepared to stand up for what he believes.”

He said: “I will also vote for Jeremy Hunt because of his commitment to HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse.”

Another young member, Joe George, 18, from Doncaster, said he was backing Mr Johnson.

He said: “I just think he’s got the strength to secure Brexit.

“I think it’s about his attitude to taxes as well and I agree with his regional plans for infrastructure.”

David Chandler, from Market Weighton, said: “I came as a Johnson supporter but I’ve changed my mind having heard them speak.

“I was impressed with his local knowledge.

“I thought Hunt was succinct and I liked that three times he was prepared to say, ‘You’re not going to like what I say’.”

A woman in her sixties, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s Boris for me. Gravitas. It’s all about gravitas.”

Earlier in the day Mr Johnson had described himself as “insanely proud” to pick up specially made “Boris Bangers” at Heck Food in North Yorkshire, before enthusiastically accepting a string of sausage links around his neck, saying: “It’s like being welcomed to India.”