Jeremy Hunt admits today that he would not have won as big a majority as Boris Johnson and that facing Covid with a suspended Parliament would have been a nightmare. The former foreign minister says he must pay homage where it is due to the man who beat him to become the Tory leader in 2019.
This pandemic would have been much worse if we had had a suspended Parliament, can you imagine? What a nightmare it would have been to take whatever action the government had to take, Hunt says. I don’t think I had as big a majority as Boris because I don’t think Nigel Farage would have stood aside for the Tories in all Tory seats if we were led by someone who voted Remain . I think Boris deserves a lot of attention for that and for getting us out of the EU cleanly.
Hunt reveals he has the hottest ticket in town later this month, he will invite Dominic Cummings to give his version of events in Downing Street during the coronavirus crisis. He wants to talk about what really happened in government as the pandemic hit, Hunt said of Cummings’ appearance before the Commons health committee on May 26.
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Hunt, the chairman of this committee, is setting the stage for what some see as the Westminsters version of Alien vs predator. It’s going to be very interesting, said Hunt euphemistically.
Among the many questions Cummings will face is whether he heard Johnson say he would rather have the bodies piled up than impose a second national lockdown.
So where does the next big health emergency come from? Hunt says: China rightly receives a lot of criticism for the early coverage, but it has also had a pandemic response following this which has been a spectacular success, more than anyone predicted, which bought the world a lot of time.
If this pandemic had started in Africa, with a much less developed health system, then we might not have had this time, and I think the greatest risk at the moment is in countries with health systems. very underdeveloped and fragile.
This is one of the reasons Hunt believes this is exactly the wrong time to cut UK aid spending by several billion pounds. The former minister is warning Johnson he will vote against a cut when it is presented in the Commons.
He says the international order, the spectacular success of which was built by the United States and Britain, rests on our moral credibility. Aid is a very important part of this, he adds, and has helped reduce extreme poverty, which is now increasing for the first time in decades because of the pandemic.
Hunt and his wife, Lucia, both met Covid earlier this year. Hunt says the uncertainty made it quite a stressful thing.
We were saved by the fact that we had given iPads to the children for Christmas. So we just unlocked all the screen time limits and let them continue, he says.
He was not a very good parent, but there was nothing more we could do. We had no one to take care of them.
Hunt, 54, says the experience of spending more time with his wife, son and two daughters over the past 15 months has meant his ambitions have weakened a bit, though the common answers keep opened another inclination to management or return to a cabinet job.
A locked-down puppy, Poppy, a golden retriever, completes the chocolate box snap shot of Surrey’s life that he says he exposed as a teenager, but now sadly admits he plays.
As Remainer, a close ally of David Cameron, then Theresa May, and MP for South West Surrey, Hunt could appear to represent the strand of conservatism supplanted by Johnsons’ Brexit-fueled metamorphosis in the North.
It would be a mistake, however, to think that the Hunts Race is fully organized. He doesn’t, like some in the party, have a problem with the Tories being a larger state party anticipating, perhaps, the next move after Johnson.
Margaret Thatchers’ small state revolution was exactly what was needed in the 1980s, he says, but now we face a different set of problems protecting capitalism and market economies.
The key factor for success in the 21st century will be how quickly you embrace innovation and technology, he says. This creates huge disruption: The first wave after the financial crisis left a lot of people behind, especially when combined with high levels of immigration.
If you look at what’s going to happen with the introduction of driverless cars over the next decade, every Uber driver will potentially lose their job. If you want to be at the forefront of technological innovation, you have to have a system that provides support for people who are going through these kinds of very dramatic changes, otherwise they’ll just say, We don’t want to do this stuff.
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