Exclusive: MP Jeremy Hunt reveals why he voted to oust Boris

By Jeremy Hunt   |   MP for South West Surrey   |
Thursday 9th June 2022 6:00 am
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A rueful grin as South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt congratulates Boris Johnson on his win in the 2019 Tory leadership ballot ()

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Nothing more perfectly encapsulates the value of stability in an institution like the monarchy than the perpetual instability of Westminster politics.

This was brought home to me vividly this week.

At the weekend I watched the wonderful Jubilee concert at home with my family on Saturday night and then went to a splendid Jubilee street party in Hambledon the next day (thanks to the brilliant Mary Grove and her team).

Then quite unexpectedly on Monday we were all plunged straight into the turmoil of a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

I thought carefully about my own responsibilities. I am a natural loyalist who has rebelled only a handful of times.

I recognise that for our political system to work, members of parliament should generally support their party, even when privately they may disagree with some policy decisions – otherwise how could any government get legislation through?

As health secretary I depended on my MP colleagues supporting me on difficult issues in the voting lobbies, even when they may have had private reservations.

But there are also times when constituents need to hear their MP speak out.

Many of you have written to me greatly angered and upset about some of the things that have happened.

I felt Monday was a moment when I needed to let everyone know where I stood – even though I knew some would disagree strongly with what I said. So with a heavy heart I said I did not believe the Conservatives were giving the country the leadership it deserved and that we were set to lose the next election if we did not change our leader.

Given we are at such a critical juncture in the Ukraine war, I did not want to have this debate right now.

I therefore did not send in a letter to the 1922 Committee, nor encourage others to do so.

I also recognise Boris Johnson, for all his endlessly-discussed faults, has achieved many important things. These include getting us out of the biggest constitutional crisis of our lifetimes, the world’s best vaccine programme and staunch support for our Ukrainian allies.

But these are now overshadowed by the partygate events in a way that means many members of the public are no longer giving us the benefit of the doubt.

That makes it much harder to deliver the radical and transformative reforms we need in many areas.

I may be right or I may be proved spectacularly wrong – but I hope I have done my duty to the people of South West Surrey by speaking honestly.

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