Johnson now says “it didn’t seem to me” that he suggested being prepared to circumvent parliament in order to get his Brexit outcome.
Would he call a general election in case parliament blocks no deal?
No, he would not, Johnson says.
Would he suspend parliament?
Johnson refuses to answer the question, says Tories are facing an “existential threat”, and that until Brexit is “over the line” there can’t be talk of a general election.
Q: How would he get young people to vote for the Tories?
Johnson says via appealing policies in the areas of housing, environment, and one “crucial thing”, the “excessive burden” of student debt. And the solution “may lie in the interest rate”, or elsewhere.
Q: How will he unite the country and heal Brexit divisons?
His answer is erratic, excuse my inability to note down one clear line it contained.
Q: What will be his stance on immigration? And how will he avoid for his immigration policies to be viewed as xenophobic?
Johnson says he doesn’t think there has been any other Tory politician being as committed to talent as he has been, “but I do believe it should be controlled.” Says he is in favour of an Australia-style points-based system.
Who would be in his cabinet? He wants a more positive approach to Brexit, but wants to “leave it at that”, says he “made no promises”.
Enter Boris Johnson.
He opens his statement by saying the Tory party is “in crisis”.
These three things, Johnson says, need to happen:
1) “We need to come out of the EU on Oct 31”, with the help of someone who believes in the Brexit project
2) “We need to unite our party and our country”, says he was able to unite Londonders as Mayor.
3) Faster broadband for all parts of the country
And he’s got a 4th:
4) Get the Tory party ready to fend off Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party at a general election.
The final question to Hunt is what he would do to improve children’s mental health.
Hunt says he wants to employ an extra 19.000 people totackle the youth mental health crisis, and that he wants the UK to be the first country to take children’s mental health seriously. And that’s it for him, his time is up.
Next question is about how Hunt would reduce knife crime.
Hunt says reduction in police numbers went too far. Says Conservatives had to make difficult fiscal decisions post-financial crash, and the reductions in police spending and social care “went too far”, and that this would have to change. Says depite this scenario, he managed to negotioate an extra £20bn for he NHS as health secretary.
Hunt is asked about tariffs in case of no-deal.
Says “there isn’t a no-deal route” in regard to Gatt24 that wouldn’t require both sides to consent. Asked whether Boris Johnson has been lying in that regard then. Hunt gives evasive answer, says he wouldn’t exactly call it lying.
Hunt is asked what his own faults are. Answer: “I certainly have plenty of faults.”
But adds it would “demean the competition” if he and Boris Johnson only pointed fingers at each other.
Q: How will he ensure the north of the country is getting a better deal if he becomes PM?
Hunt says he is backing the Northern Powerhouse rail, and that he wants he UK to be “the world’s next Silicon Valley”. He wants a “northern tech-triangle”, like the “London-Oxford-Cambridge triangle” in the south.
Hunt is asked whether he would simply go from Brexit extension to extension if he became PM.
Hunt says he wouldn’t. “I will leave without a deal, […] but I will do so with a heavy heart.”
Q: How confident are you that you can beat both Corbyn and Farage at a next general election?
Hunt: “My absolute commitment is to not provoke a general election before we have left.”
Says Conservative Party is the actual party standing up for small people, not Labour, and the party that “walks the walk” in terms of social justice, to a bit of jeering from the audience.
Hunt now says he will give “full rights” to the 3 million EU nationals in the UK.
A question about big infrastructure projects: Would he support HS2 and a third Heathrow runway? Hunt says he would back both as PM.
Hunt says US-UK relationship should be treated as “sacred”.
He is asked about the future of the NHS in case of no-deal and the potential threat of “creeping privatisation” of the health service. Hunt said president Trump misunderstood British demonstrants campaigning for better NHS funding.
Hunt now speaks about the rise of China, which, he says, “is not a democracy”, mentions his wife, jokes: “Got the nationality right!”