South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt has launched a new campaign to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and British prime minister.
In an article to be published in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hunt says he is the only candidate who can win back trust with voters, having “stayed out of the Boris bubble”.
A past cabinet minister in the governments of PMs David Cameron and Theresa May, he has also pledged to cut business taxes to the lowest rate in the Western world – including axing business rates for five years “for the most in-need communities”.
Mr Hunt served as Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport at the time of the London 2012 Games, became the longest serving health secretary in the history of the NHS and later foreign secretary.
He has been the chairman of the House of Commons health and social care committee since 2020.
The MP for South West Surrey since 2005, Mr Hunt also ran for the Conservative Party leadership in 2019, losing in the final round to Boris Johnson.
He reportedly turned down a number of offers to join Mr Johnson’s cabinet, and was the first senior Tory to announce he would vote against the scandal-strewn PM in last month’s confidence vote.
Mr Hunt told The Sunday Telegraph he is standing to be leader of the Conservative Party, “because we have to restore trust, grow the economy, and win the next election”.
He added: “Those are the three things that have to happen and I believe I can do that.”
The article states Mr Hunt was watching from his parliamentary office “as the Number10 door swung open”, and Mr Johnson appeared to deliver his resignation speech shortly after midday on Thursday.
Speaking in the “basement kitchen of his central London townhouse”, Mr Hunt told The Telegraph he started the week “desperately worried for the country and for the Conservative Party”.
He continued: “We were rapidly losing the trust of large swathes of the electorate, including many people who voted for us.
“We were in a situation where the country was facing paralysis; the government wasn’t able to deliver what it promised.
“So I think I feel a sense of relief that that at least has been resolved.”
Mr Hunt told the newspaper he would cut corporation tax to 15 per cent and remove business rates for five years for the most in-need communities.
On the Tories’ electoral chances, he said: “We have to be honest that over the last year, we lost the trust of many swathes of people who voted Conservative in 2019.
“I am the only major candidate who has not served in Boris Johnson’s government. I called out what was going wrong long before any of the other major contenders and I have not been defending the indefensible.
“So by choosing me, the Conservative Party is sending a signal to those voters that we have listened to your concerns and we have changed. That is the most important thing we need to do now. It is to restore trust.”