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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt unveil new pledges in leadership race

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt

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Tory leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have unveiled pledges on immigration and education.

Frontrunner Mr Johnson has promised to deliver an Australian-style points-based immigration system if he becomes prime minister.

And Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said he would cancel the tuition fee debts of young entrepreneurs who start businesses and employ people.

The winner of the contest will take over from Theresa May on 24 July.

In the Conservative Party digital hustings, broadcast on the party’s Facebook page and on Twitter on Wednesday evening, Mr Johnson said he was “open to talent, open to immigration” but he said it “should be controlled”.

“I do believe therefore that it is right to go for an Australian-style points-based system so that the needs of the UK economy can be properly met,” he said.

“Yes, I do want talented people to be able to come here and yes I do want the agricultural sector to be able to satisfy their requirements as well, it’s incredibly important, but it’s got to be done on the basis of a system of democratic control.”

Under Mr Hunt’s new proposal, anyone who creates a new business which employs more than 10 people for five years would have their university tuition fee debts written off.

Mr Hunt, who has stressed his background as an entrepreneur, said he wanted to give young people the confidence to go into business for themselves.

“If we are to turbo-charge our economy and take advantage of Brexit, we need to back the young entrepreneurs who take risks and create jobs,” he said.

“I started my own business, I still use the lessons that experience taught me – focus, drive and the art of negotiation – every single day.

“I want more young people to have the confidence to take the decision to start their own business, so we create wealth and start thriving as a country again.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt spoke for the first time about the death of his sister in a “terrible accident” when he was only two years old.

“I was too young to ever remember it but I do know it affected my parents,” he told ITV’s Peston.

“I wouldn’t claim this is something that had a big emotional affect on me personally.”

Compare the candidates’ policies and careers

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more

CAREER

Jeremy Hunt

Foreign Secretary


– The foreign secretary campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer.
– He even suggested, to widespread criticism, that the EU was like the Soviet Union. However, he has said his party would be committing “political suicide” if it tried to push through a no-deal Brexit.
– Mr Hunt, who attended Charterhouse school and Oxford University, has been an MP for South West Surrey since 2005. He was made culture secretary under the coalition government in 2010 and oversaw the 2012 London Olympics before becoming health secretary.
– In 2018, he became the longest-serving health secretary, and arguably one of the most controversial, since the NHS was created, completing six years in the role. During his tenure, he clashed with unions over contracts for junior doctors, who took part in a series of walkouts in 2015.

Boris Johnson

Backbencher


Each candidate is vying for the votes of the 160,000 or so Conservative Party members who will vote for the next party leader and therefore prime minister.

The rivals used the digital hustings to set out some of their plans:

On Brexit

Mr Hunt said if the UK gets to October without the prospect of deal, “we will leave without a deal”.

Mr Johnson also repeated his pledge to get the UK out of the EU on 31 October, but he thinks the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening are a “million to one”.

On an election

Mr Hunt said it was essential the Conservatives had delivered Brexit before a general election, otherwise the party “will be thrashed”.

Asked about proroguing Parliament, Mr Johnson said: “It would be absolutely crazy for any of us to think of going to the country and calling a general election before we get Brexit done.”

When pushed, he added: “I’m not attracted to archaic devices like proroguing.”

On trade rules

Mr Hunt dismissed rival Mr Johnson’s claims that a mechanism known as Gatt 24 could be used to prevent tariffs if there was a no-deal Brexit.

He said: “I think we’ve got to knock this Gatt 24 thing on the head. You can only get an agreement not to introduce tariffs if both sides agree to that.”

On EU citizens’ rights

Mr Hunt said he would give full citizens’ rights to the three million EU nationals living in the UK, even if the UK left without a deal.

Mr Johnson said he was “absolutely in favour” of protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

Infrastructure

The foreign secretary said he would back both the third runway at Heathrow and the HS2 high-speed rail link.

Mr Johnson said it had to be recognised that there was “huge pressure” on the south east, so more infrastructure was needed.

Healthcare

Mr Johnson said the NHS would be “free to everybody at the point of use” under his premiership.

He ruled out a pay-for-access NHS, even as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt unveil new pledges in leadership race}

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