‘Boris promises, I deliver’: Hunt blasts Johnson over ‘£350m-a-week for the NHS’ Leave bus pledge as he admits his planned spending blitz on defence and social care would ‘have to wait’ if there was a No Deal Brexit
- Tory leadership outsider made the admission as he defended his spending plans
- Chancellor Philip Hammond had warned Mr Hunt and Boris Johnson to ‘be honest’ about the cost of their proposals
- He has proposed increasing spending on defence and social care if he is PM
- But Foreign Secretary said: ‘These kinds of spending plans would be delayed if we have a No Deal Brexit’
Jeremy Hunt tore into Boris Johnson over the Leave campaign’s bus pledge of £350 million a week extra for the NHS tonight, accusing his rival of talking the talk while he walked the walk.
The Foreign Secretary -a former Remainer – lashed out on an hour-long interview with Sky News which Mr Johnson refused to take part in.
Presenter Kay Burley brought up the infamous pledge from 2016 – the subject of a failed court case against Mr Johnson last month – which vowed to spend EU-bound cash on hospitals after Brexit.
After being asked what he would write on the side of a bus, Mr Hunt said: ‘Boris promised on the side of a bus an extra £350 every week for the NHS, I actually delivered that promise.
‘Boris promised Brexit and I will deliver Brexit.’
Mr Johnson campaigned with the bus and made similar comments to its slogan in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum and before the 2017 General Election, claiming the UK should give the cash to the NHS instead.
Last month he won a High Court challenge against a court summons over the claim, blocking a summons for him to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court to answer a controversial private prosecution by campaigner Marcus Ball.
Mr Ball, a Remainer, had been trying to prosecute the Conservative leadership for three allegations of misconduct in a public office. But he will now not face court after two High Court judges took barely five minutes to quash the case.
Mt Hunt also used the lengthy interview to say that multi-billion pound spending increases for social care and defence ‘will have to wait’ if there is a No Deal Brexit because cash will be needed to soften the blow for businesses instead.
Mr Hunt told Sky News: ‘These kinds of spending plans would be delayed if we have a No Deal Brexit because it (cash) would be needed to help out businesses’
Mr Johnson campaigning in Truro, Cornwall, in 2016 with the Vote Leave bus with the controversial slogan on the side
The Tory leadership outsider made the claim as he defended his plans to spend billions of pounds if he becomes prime minister.
It came after Chancellor Philip Hammond warned Mr Hunt and Boris Johnson to ‘be honest’ about the cost of their bold plans for power, which have included spending huge sums in areas such as social care, education, defence and policing.
He attacked their plans to use ‘fiscal headroom’ – a political rainy day fund – to pay for them, saying that if there was a No Deal Brexit it would be swallowed up.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Hunt agreed with him, highlighting his plan to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP.
‘These kinds of spending plans would be delayed if we have a No Deal Brexit because it (cash) would be needed to help out businesses, to smooth the transition’ he said.
‘We are going to have to use that ”headroom” to cushion the impact of a No Deal Brexit.’
Going on to mention social care – the subject of demands for a massive cash increase – he added: ‘Social care will have to wait.’
Mr Hunt (right, with Prince Charles) attended a D-Day event in Portsmouth with leaders including Angela Merkel (second left) last month
Mr Hunt also reiterated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told him she is willing to look at a new Brexit deal package put forward by a new prime minister.
The Foreign Secretary told Sky News: ‘I’ve had a conversation with Angela Merkel and… (she said) ‘of course we will look at any proposals made by a new UK prime minister’ because she wants to solve this problem…
‘And providing we’re sensible, and I think the approach that I’ve laid out is a sensible approach and a fair approach, and I think that it’s in Germany’s interests as well.’
Pressed further, he said: ‘What she has said is she will look at the package and I think she will look at it with an open mind.’
Mr Hunt, addressing the Irish border backstop, said he believes there is ‘technology there now’ to provide a solution – adding checks can be done away from borders.
He added: ‘My impression having read many Government documents on this is that it is, I think, overall it is technically possible and it’s a question of creating a negotiating environment where it is also politically acceptable to the EU and to the government in the Republic of Ireland.
‘That is why I think if we send the right prime minister we have a chance.’
Asked if it was possible before 2030, Mr Hunt replied: ‘I believe it’s technically possible now.’
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