That’s your lot today. Here’s a summary:


The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has revealed that just two of the remaining contenders for the Conservative party leadership have so far accepted his challenge and pledged to work to keep down Britain’s national debt.

Hammond, who sought assurances after becoming alarmed by the spending promises being made by Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, disclosed that he had received private commitments from two campaigns.

“I believe that fiscal responsibility is one of the unique selling points of my party,” Hammond said as he arrived at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg. “We have over a long period built the hard-won reputation for fiscal responsibility and managing the economy and the public finances and I want to ensure that the candidates commit to carrying on with the work that we’ve been doing over the last nine years.

“A couple of the candidates have signalled privately that they will be signing up to the pledge but I’m waiting to see what we get back.”

Transcript of Boris Johnson's first campaign interview

Here’s a transcript of Johnson’s other comments by subject:

Hiding from the media

I’ve been subjecting myself to scrutiny on the part of my colleagues in Parliament and lots of hustings have taken place. I’ve done newspaper interviews and here I am. I always been keen on TV debates and slightly bewildered by the the conversation that’s been going on, because I think it is important that we have a sensible grown up debate. And my own observation is that I think in the past, when you’ve had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous. And I think the public have had quite a lot of blue on blue action, frankly, over the last three years, we don’t necessarily need a lot more of that. I think the best solution would be to have a debate on what we all have to offer the country, our programme to take Britain forward. And the best time to do that, I think would be after the second ballot on Tuesday. And the best forum is the proposed BBC debate.

Sunday’s Channel 4 debate

I must have received dozens and dozens of invitations to do hustings here, there and everywhere, and debates of all kinds. But as I say, I think there can be a risk of a slight cacophony when you have lots and lots of candidates, but also the impression of yet more blue on blue action. When I think what the public wants to hear is a serious debate.

I’m very keen on TV debates and did many, many if people remember, in the run up to London mayoral elections. I think, by the end, a certain sort of narcolepsy had descended on the TV audience. So I’m more than happy to do the the BBC TV debate on Tuesday.

Worries about saying the wrong things

People will always try to find a moment when they can say that they’ve tripped me up, or forced me into some gaffe or indiscretion or error of some kind. But I will continue to be the kind of politician I’ve been for a very long time. And that is somebody who believes passionately, in his ideas. Somebody I want to take this country forward, I think we have some fantastic projects now going on to unite the UK with infrastructure, with education, with technology. In a nutshell, what I want to do in the UK is do what we did in London to try to unite our society and bring it together.

If sometimes I say things that cause a fluttering in the dovecots or plaster to come off the ceiling, if it gets people’s attention if it interests them in politics, then I think that is no bad thing.

Defeating opponents

I think that we have a good formula to take the country forward a winning formula. It is modern, progressive conservatism, and it is the way to defeat Jeremy Corbyn and also to take the wind out of the sails, both of the Liberals and of the new Brexit party. Both those parties are of course, feasting mightily on the the failure of the political class in this country at the moment to sort out Brexit.


I don’t aim for no deal. I don’t want no deal as the outcome of the talks. Of course not. I don’t want us to leave with a WTO solution. But I certainly don’t think that some of the promises of doom and disaster are true. And I think we will find plenty of people who will give you a very different verdict about about what no deal would mean. We can get to a situation in which we are able to leave smoothly with an orderly, managed Brexit. And that’s what we should be aiming for. But the only way to make sure that we convince our partners that were determined to get that outcome is to prepare for no deal.

Leaving the EU by 31 October

I think it is perfectly realistic. And there is a clear way that the now effectively defunct withdrawal agreement can be disaggregated. The good bits of it can be taken out. I think what we should do is take the provisions on citizenship, take the offer that we make to the 3.2 million EU citizens in our country and just do it ...

We got to be out by October the 31st. And I think it would be absolutely bizarre for to signal at this stage that the UK government was willing, once again, to run up the white flag and delay yet again. My commitment is to honour the will of the people and take this country out on October 31st. And the way to do it, as I say is to desegregate the current withdrawal agreement and move on.

The Irish Backstop

The fundamental flaw in the current withdrawal agreement, which everybody understands, is the Irish backstop arrangements. That’s a prison, that’s Hobson’s choice. The solution is obvious. It is something that actually united MPs on on all sides of the house when they voted for the Brady amendments. Our friends and partners over the channel will say this is impossible. We can’t do this. It’s the unicorns and so on. And I perfectly understand that. But I think actually there is a solution to be arrived at in that area.

Preparation for no deal

In the meantime, it’s absolutely crucial to prepare for no deal. And I don’t share the deep pessimism of some people about the consequences of no deal. That’s not to say that I don’t think there will be some difficulties that need to be addressed. Unless we show fortitude and determination I don’t think that we will carry conviction in Brussels, about about the deal we want to do.

Avoiding a hard border

Those problems are easily capable of a solution, as I think the Commission has said in the past, with maximum facilitation techniques. You already have goods conforming to different standards. France, for instance, has different laws on flame retardant furniture, and we have no checks at the the borders to intercept goods from France.

The obvious way to do it is to make sure that you have checks on anybody who breaks the law, but you do it away from the border. And that is common ground. Anybody who breaks the law, is clearly going to be subject to checks and investigation. There is already smuggling across that border and smugglers are intercepted in the normal in the normal way. There are ways of doing this, that do not require a hard border.

Switching Irish border questions to implementation phase

The solutions to the facilitation that need to be provided to enable us to do a proper free trade deal with our friends and partners, those should not be preordained by the backstop. But they should be remitted into the implementation period for discussion after we have left it in the context of negotiation of the free trade deal. That is the obvious solution. It’s something that is agreed on all sides of the house. I accept that at the moment, the EU will say we can’t accept that. They’re bound to say that at present. I think that they will find a way forward. It would not be sensible for the UK to depart in that kind of disorderly way. But if we have to get out on no deal terms then it is our absolute responsibility to prepare for it. And it’s by preparing for it that we prevent that outcome.

Persuading the EU to renegotiate

I think what they will see is that politics has changed in the in the UK. And and in Europe. They have now 29 Brexit MEPs. The parties in this country are facing an existential threat. Both the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats are leading the polls, as a result of the failure of the two main parties to deliver on the will of the people. That is what needs to happen. It needs to happen by October, the 31st. And we need to get on and do it and all those who say that we should delay that we should kick the can down the road. I think they risk doing terminal damage to trust in politics.

One Nation Conservative

Once we move on, we will be able to do many, many things. Once we get Brexit off the front pages, there will be a massive opportunity for the Conservative Party once again, to occupy the centre ground of politics and to speak for huge numbers of people in the country who feel they were left behind. And now is the time to do some absolutely fantastic things.

On foreign office gaffes

When I was foreign secretary we managed to organise the single biggest diplomatic coup this country has pulled off that I can remember, when I like about 30 countries around the world expelled 153 Russian spies collectively in response to the poisonings in Salisbury.

Any more blue on blue action in this in this contest is is not what I want to get into. But I was very proud as foreign secretary to have expanded our network very considerably to have championed female education around the world, and done quite a lot actually to to stop the illegal wildlife trade around the world to say nothing of hosting a great Commonwealth summit and many, many other things.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

One’s sympathy is with Nazanin, her family clearly and with the families of the other consular cases. If you point the finger of blame at me or anybody who has tried to get Nazain out, then I think you are unintentionally exculpating the people who are really responsible, and that is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force and Qassem Suleimani, who are illegally and inhumanely detaining those individuals.

Failures over detail

Look at the record of what we delivered in London, in eight years. We out built Labour in housing, we had record investment in transport, we tube delays by 30%, we cut crime by about 20%. And we cut the murder rate by 50%. And we worked flat out to achieve that. And it was because I had a great team that I was able to do that. And we will have a great team, if I’m lucky enough to be elected, that will deliver the same kind of progress and the same sort of improvements for the people of this entire country. And that is my ambition. And that is why I’m standing in this race.


Johnson insists he only took cocaine once

PA’s first take on the interview focuses on the cocaine question:

Boris Johnson has denied using cocaine since a “single inconclusive event” more than 30 years ago.

The Conservative Party leadership favourite, who has repeatedly appeared to dodge questions over his previous drug use throughout his campaign to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister, said he had only used the Class A substance once.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4’s World At One, Johnson described the incident as “a single inconclusive event that took place when I was a teenager and which I have extensively described”.

Asked if he had used the drug since then, he said: “No.”

Probing questions about previous misdemeanours and the use of drugs have become an evergreen feature of the Conservative Party leadership race.

Candidates such as Michael Gove and Rory Stewart made revelatory comments about their dabblings with cocaine and opium, respectively.

Johnson confessed to having used cocaine during an interview with British GQ magazine in 2007, in which he said it “achieved no pharmacological, psychotropical or any other effect on me whatsoever”.

But he was reluctant to elaborate when questioned about it during his campaign launch on Wednesday.

He said: “I think the canonical account of this event when I was 19 has appeared many, many times.

“I think what most people in this country want us to really focus on in this campaign, if I may say so, is what we can do for them and what our plans are for this great country of ours.”

Here’s some initial reaction to Johnson’s interview:

Impressive stuff by Boris (low bar but..)
WATO interview nips growing debate row in the bud.
Nails cocaine line
Brexit policy still comes with a high unicorn rating
But Lynton quite clearly earning his money

— steve hawkes (@steve_hawkes) June 14, 2019

Asked on #WATO about his culpability in the fate of #NazaninZaghariRatcliffe, Boris Johnson answers by talking about his record as London mayor. Appalling evasion

— Jonathan Freedland (@Freedland) June 14, 2019

Boris correct about his role in Salisbury response. Amazed it's taken him this long to start banging on about it and no mention in launch speech.

— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) June 14, 2019

Good to hear @BorisJohnson promising to give the 3 million EU citizens in the UK status rather than each having to individually apply. At least that's what I thought he was talking about with his reference to a "super-derogatory" way.

— Alan Travis (@alantravis40) June 14, 2019

Boris Johnson tells @BBCWorldatOne the solution to the Irish Backstop is obvious: the Brady Amendment. Which said the Backstop should be replaced with "alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border".

Which is like saying the solution to a civil war is not to have a civil war

— Stewart Wood (@StewartWood) June 14, 2019


Asked about his gaffe-prone stint as foreign secretary, Johnson cited his success in persuading the UK’s allies to expel Russia diplomats in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings.

He refused to respond to Alan Duncan’s dig that he was Johnson’s “pooper scooper” in the foreign office. Johnson said he did not want to indulge in more blue on blue action.

On criticism of his handling of the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran, he says focusing on his comments deflect blame from the Iranians.

Johnson again dodged questions about taking cocaine, but claimed he had only taken it once as a teenager.

There are ways of doing this without a hard border, Johnson insists in relation to the backstop.

These issues should be discussed after the UK leaves the EU on 31 October. He insists again that he would take the UK out by that deadline.

He said: “We have got to be out by October 31st. It would be absolutely bizarre to signal at this stage that UK government would run up the white flag and delay.”

If debates interest the public that’s a good thing, Johnson says, even if “plaster flies off the ceiling”.

Asked about a no-deal, he says “I don’t want us to leave with a WTO solution”. But predictions of doom and disaster about no-deal are wrong, he claims.

He says he is aiming for a managed, orderly and smooth Brexit and calls for preparations for a no-deal.

The fundamental flaw in the current withdrawal agreement is the backstop on the Irish border, he says.

The solution is obvious he says, and cites the Brady amendment on alternative arrangements to a hard border with Ireland. In the meantime we need to prepare for a no-deal. “I don’t share the deep pessimism about no-deal,” Johnson says but he concedes it would be difficult.

In his BBC Radio interview, Johnson denies he has been ducking the media. He likes TV debates he says, but claims the public is tired of “blue on blue action”.

The best time to debate would be after the second ballot of Tory MPs. He says he is “more than happy” to do the BBC debate on Tuesday, and refuses to say whether he will take part in Sunday’s debate on Channel 4.

Johnson to skip C4 debate but will take part in BBC leadership hustings

We’re switching attention back to the Tory leadership race, after Boris Johnson breaks his interview silence.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that he will miss a leadership debate hosted by Channel 4 on Sunday because there would be too many people involved.

Instead, he said he would be prepared to take part in the BBC debate on Tuesday evening once the field has narrowed after the second leadership contest ballot earlier in the day.

According to the BBC, Johnson told the programme:

“I think it is important that we have a sensible grown-up debate. My own observation is that in the past when you’ve had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous and I think the public have had quite a lot of blue on blue action frankly over the last three years.

“We don’t necessarily need a lot more of that and so what I think the best solution would be, would be to have a debate on what we all have to offer the country and the best time to do that I think would be after the second ballot on Tuesday and the best forum is the proposed BBC debate. I think that’s a good idea.”

Umunna says he doesn’t want to be leader of the LibDems and refuses to endorse either Swinson or Davey for the post. On drugs, Umunna admits to smoking dope, but never taking cocaine.

Perhaps Boris Johnson will answer that question, Umunna says.

Umunna says Labour’s position on Brexit hasn’t changed in the last two years, Umunna says. Corbyn is a Brexiteer, he says. Labour has only changed “tonally” on Brexit since the Independent Group MPs left.

Asked about splits in Change UK, Umunna says he always thought it would need to work with other parties. Others in Change UK disagreed. I was fundamentally wrong about the need for a new party, he says.

What about a byelection?

Ian Lavery (the chairman of the Labour party) likes to talk about people’s vote for a byelection for defecting MPs, but rules out a people’s vote on Brexit, Umunna says.

Q: Why not have a byelection in Streatham? And is the LibDem party your final resting place?

Yes, Umunna says to the last question. I got something wrong, something has changed, I changed my mind.

I’m a Streatham boy and committed to my constituency, Umunna says, but he dodges the byelection question.

Moving to the Q&As.

Cable is asked how many other MPs will defect to the LibDems. He says there is a sizeable chunk of disgruntled Tory MPs over Brexit. He said there similar disquiet in Labour citing this week meeting of the PLP.

The question for Labour is how they can support Brexit and end austerity. Many in the party privately accept this, Umunna says. Labour is not being true to its progressive values. “There is a home for you: it is the Liberal Democrats”, he says in a plea to disgruntled members of his former party.

Umunna says he found it hard to comes to terms with the austerity measures of the coalition government. He says he disagreed with the speed of the cuts. Four years on, things have changed, Umunna insists, citing its anti-austerity manifesto. Things like the bedroom tax and the U-turn on university tuition fees should never have happened.

But you can’t end austerity and sponsor Brexit, Umunna claims.

Umunna repeats that he was wrong about the need for another centre ground party. He said it was important to learn lessons in politics.

He conceded he “massively underestimated” the difficulty in forming a new party. And credits Vince Cable with warning him him how tricky it would be without an infrastructure.

Umunna says he has been warmly welcomed since join the LibDems and jokes about his lack of political loyalty.

“I’ve never been a particularly tribal person. You can probably tell that from the number or parties I’ve been part of this year,” he says.

He also describes himself as an internationalist which is why he is so opposed to Brexit.


The Chuka Umunna press conference has begun. It’s Siobhan Benita, the Lib Dems’ candidate for London mayor, up first. She jokingly bestows the title of “Head of Branding” for her mayoral campaign on Umunna before saying more seriously: “We appreciate it can’t have been easy for you.”

Johnson will take part in BBC leadership debate

Boris Johnson has told the BBC that he will take part in the BBC leadership debate.

BREAK: Boris Johnson has told BBC Radio 4's World at One he WILL take part in the BBC leadership debate. Full and wide-ranging interview at 1pm on Radio 4 #boris #toryleadership @BBCRadio4 @BBCPolitics #wato #bbcwato

— Chris Wimpress (@ChrisWimpress) June 14, 2019


Former Labour peer Lord Sugar, the businessman and Apprentice host, is backing Boris Johnson as the best candidate to beat Jeremy Corbyn.

I seriously back @BorisJohnson to be the new PM . The public like him and he will have a good chance of winning the general election in 2021 if not before. Any one who can stop @jeremycorbyn from becoming PM has my backing .

— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 14, 2019

Sugar resigned from the Labour party in May 2015 after an 18-year affiliation, attacking what he called “anti-enterprise concepts” and “a policy shift moving back towards what old Labour stood for”.

Sky’s Sam Coates has been told that Hancock will not be backing Javid and speculates that his supporters will switch to either Hunt, Javid or Stewart.

Matt Hancock will NOT be backing Sajid Javid, I’m told by sources this morning

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) June 14, 2019

Also obviously the Hancock votes will not go to one place: I’m told they’re likely to split between Gove Hunt Javid and Stewart - with some keeping quiet

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) June 14, 2019

David Jeffery, a lecturer in politics at Liverpool University, reckons Hancock’s 20 supporters in the first round are most likely to switch to Jeremy Hunt, followed by Sajid Javid, based on their voting records and support for candidates in the 2016 leadership race.

Hancock's support, in terms of Euroscepticism, 2016 leadership support (proxy for ideology?) and payroll vote, closest to Hunt and then Javid.


— David Jeffery (@DavidJeffery_) June 14, 2019


Sajid Javid has become the first of the remaining six candidates to fish for Hancock’s votes. He won’t be the last.

Brilliant campaign from my friend @MattHancock - and more importantly the right message. Our party & government needs to renew for the next generation, with an agenda beyond Brexit. And whatever happens in coming weeks Matt will be key to driving that

— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) June 14, 2019

Former cabinet minister Damian Green, who backed Hancock, has urged the other candidates to leave him alone until next week.

I am proud to have supported @MattHancock and the values he stands for. He will be a great PM one day. Meanwhile, to all candidates, until Monday Do Not Disturb.

— Damian Green (@DamianGreen) June 14, 2019


Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far today:

Asked by Sky News whether Rory Stewart, Sajid Javid, and Dominic Raab should also pull out, Hancock said;

They’ll make their decisions, I’m not going to put pressure on them, I’m going to think about what is the best way for me to advance the values that I care about, that I’ve articulated and made the case for in this campaign. And as I say, I feel like I’ve been winning arguments during the campaign.

With a dig at Boris Johnson he pointed out that he had campaigned for an open contest including TV debate.

On Johnson’s threat to prorogue parliament to get Brexit through, Hancock said:

I think that proroguing parliament would be wrong. It really against all the the democratic ideals that we stand for as a country, and also to be totally impractical, and it would never work.

I want us to deliver Brexit and then move forward. And it’s the moving forward that I’ve been really focused on.

Hancock also suggested he would be best candidate in the next Tory leadership race.

If you look at the results of the first round the party is it’s pretty clear that they want somebody who’s involved in the debates of the here and now. I’m going to focus on the future. And I’m going to concentrate on making sure this party is always looking with optimism, to the future to deliver for people, because that’s what we need to do. That’s the whole point of being in politics is to make life better for people in this country. And that’s the values I’m going to concentrate on.

In a video announcing he was bowing out of the race, Hancock appeared to blame Brexit for his withdrawal:

I put myself forward as the candidate for the future, but it is increasingly clear that the party, understandably, is looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances that exist now.

Thank you for all your support. I have decided to withdraw from the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. I will now look for the best way to advance the values we fought for.

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) June 14, 2019

Announcing his decision Hancock said:

“I ran as the candidate of the future, but the party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now. I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward.”

Matt Hancock has pulled out of the leadership race

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced he is pulling out of the race to become Tory leader.

He came sixth with 20 votes in the first round. Hancock hasn’t said who he be backing in the next round.

First round of the Tory leadership race
First round of the Tory leadership race

Rory Stewart has ducked his own question about whether Boris Johnson could be trusted with the UK’s nuclear codes.

The international development secretary made doubts about Johnson’s trustworthiness a key part of his leadership launch on Tuesday.

Speaking to an audience of 600 members of the public, he “Do you really feel that this is the person that you want engaging in the detail of the future of your health and education system? Is this the person you want writing the instruction to the nuclear submarines? Is this the man that you want embodying your nation and guiding you through the most difficult choice we’ve faced for 50 years?”

But asked by LBC Eddie Mair today whether Stewart himself would trust Johnson with the codes, he refused to answer.

The usually fluent Stewart appeared stumped by his own question and repeatedly refused to answer it. He said: “I’m avoiding your question, I’m going to duck your question.”

When pressed he said it was for Tory members to decide whether they trusted Johnson with the nuclear codes.

My @LBC interview with @RoryStewartUK with a crucial question about @BorisJohnson. He agreed to appear, unlike @BorisJohnson who sent a proxy. No more. If @BorisJohnson won't speak for himself on my show, no-one else will.

— Eddie Mair (@eddiemair) June 14, 2019

Both Jeremy Hunt, and his campaign, have retweeted his what-would-Churchill-say attack line against Boris Johnson.

"What would Churchill say if someone who wants to be PM is hiding away from the media?"

Referring to Boris Johnson, Foreign Sec @Jeremy_Hunt says there should be "proper scrutiny" of the candidates including media interviews #r4today

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) June 14, 2019

But backing for Johnson’s decision to duck the debates comes from Christopher Meyer, whose previous roles include chair of the Press Complaints Commission, UK ambassador to the US, and John Major’s press secretary. This is so transparently an effort by the six Lilliputians to pull down @BorisJohnson , the more nauseating for being wrapped in the cloak of open, democratic debate. The time for the blinding light of scrutiny will come if Boris gets into the last two.

— Christopher Meyer (@SirSocks) June 14, 2019

One of my former bosses, Ian Katz, now director of programmes at Channel 4, is joining in the goading of Boris Johnson to take part in the TV debate on Sunday.

Duck or debate? Katz asks the former foreign secretary.

Six out of seven remaining candidates for Tory leader now confirmed for Channel 4 hustings on Sunday. Will @BorisJohnson duck or debate?

— Ian Katz (@iankatz1000) June 14, 2019

The broadcaster, Alastair Stewart, who has chaired previous leadership debates says Johnson’s avoidance of interviews is “outrageous”.

A debate with seven people is interesting but not the most effective way of forensically challenging any or all of the candidates. One to one forensic interviews are. It is @BorisJohnson's avoidance of them that is outrageous.

— Alastair Stewart (@alstewitn) June 14, 2019

The Spectator’s deputy editor, Freddy Gray blames Lynton Crosby who is running Johnson’s campaign:

He is a veritable TV debatephobe. He has run the last two Tory general elections, and he ordered David Cameron and Theresa May to shy away from the TV debates.

In Crosby’s view, debate-ducking is the sensible course. He sees no upside. For frontrunners, especially, if the debate goes well, there is no real uptick in support. The only way a TV debate can influence an election is if a candidate is a massive gaffe, a viral FAIL that destroys his or her credibility. So best shunned.

That makes perfect sense in terms of winning — perhaps doubly so in Boris’s case, with so much of the anti-Brexit media bubble desperate for him to slip up. It’s why Boris’s team are apparently so wedded to this ‘submarine’ strategy.

But it is cowardly. It is wet, to use a word Tories are familiar with. Nobody wants to be led by a coward. The short-term benefits of removing the banana-skin should be set against the longer term negatives of making you candidate look like a slippery fish. Even when you win, you look sly.

Moreover, as a tactic, debate ducking undervalues Boris’s talents.


LibDem leadership hopeful Jo Swinson is buoyed by the defection of Chuka Umunna to her party.

Spring in my step today as @ChukaUmunna shows that @LibDems are the rallying point for people who want to #StopBrexit & fight the climate crisis. I have always believed we should welcome those who share those values. Vote for me and let’s do this! #JoinJo

— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) June 14, 2019

Labour continues to trawl up Umunna’s past criticism of the LibDems.

You can’t trust the Lib Dem’s. Well said Chuka. Well said!

— Bill Esterson (@Bill_Esterson) June 14, 2019

Umunna admitted he was hesitant about joining the Lib Dems because of their role in the austerity programme under the coalition government.

He told Today: “The thing that has given me pause for thought definitely has been the time that the Liberal Democrats served in coalition and the austerity. But things have changed since then, the Liberal Democrats have voted against every single Conservative budget since 2015.”

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

There is mounting speculation that the health secretary, Matt Hancock, is poised to withdraw from the race, but if he does it unclear who he would endorse.

Candidates have until 1pm today to say if they want to enter the next round of voting on Tuesday, when they need to get 33 votes to proceed to the next round.That looks a tough ask for Hancock who came sixth with 20 votes, one more than Stewart.

The health secretary met fifth-place rival Sajid Javid, who got 23 votes, for talks last night, according to Newsnight’s Nick Watt.

“It's pretty clear to me tonight that Matt Hancock… will pull out of this race tomorrow," says our Political Editor Nicholas Watt@nicholaswatt | #newsnight

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) June 13, 2019

But it unclear what the outcome of those talks was, as Sky Sophy Ridge notes:

So far this morning I’ve read that Matt Hancock is going to withdraw and back Javid, Gove, Hunt and Johnson. That narrows it down. 🙈

— Sophy Ridge (@SophyRidgeSky) June 14, 2019

Here’s a reminder of the results of the first round of voting:

First round of voting in Tory leadership race
First round of voting in Tory leadership race


Rory Stewart is also trying to bounce Johnson into taking part in the TV debates.

So pleased to hear this - well done Boris - look forward to seeing you in the debate on Sunday!

— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 14, 2019

Earlier he told the Today programme:

The real judgment the members of parliament have to make is who do they want going up against Boris in the final two, and there’s only one way they can judge that, which is by seeing Boris on the stage against the other candidates.

It feels as though he is feels that he’s doing well, that he’s winning, and that he doesn’t want to take any risk, which could upset the campaign. But I think it’s a great pity. He’s a great public performer, the public need to see him.

Like Hunt, Stewart warned against t a repeat of the 2016 leadership election when Theresa May was chosen without a vote.

I think it’s also really important for the legitimacy of the choice of the prime minister, that this doesn’t take place in a smoke filled room, but that the public is able to see the candidates out in public. And in fact, I think maybe it’s a lesson from the last leadership race that we need to test the candidates on TV front of the public with rigorous questioning before they become Prime Minister.

Asked what he would ask Johnson, Stewart said:

There are a number of questions I’ve asked which I haven’t had an answer to. One of them is about the question of whether or not he’ll say that he would never suspend parliament. I’d also like some clarity from him and indeed, from other candidates, on whether they will meet the Chancellor’s fiscal rules on debt and borrowing.

But the most important question of all, for Boris and indeed for some of the other candidates is, what is this no deal Brexit and how are they going to do it?

He keeps saying he will deliver Brexit by the 31st of October, but how we need to get into the details of how it’s going to happen? How is he going to renegotiate. How is he going to get it through Parliament? Because this can’t just be a blind act of faith.

One way of seeing that is going to be these TV debates. I think it’s going to be critical because Boris is one of the greatest communicators in modern British political life. So the question is going to be which one of us has the flare the nimbleness, the minds and the communication ability to be able to challenge this formidable campaigner.

The work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, who is backing Jeremy Hunt, is joining in the onslaught about Johnson’s failure to face scrutiny.

She retweeted a Sky News interview from last year when he backed the broadcasters campaign for TV debates with political leaders. These words will haunt the frontrunner unless he agrees to take part in the TV debates: “My feeling is that they are essential and the public does need to see interchange between their potential leaders”.

Good sense from Boris here:

— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRuddHR) June 14, 2019


'What would Churchill say?' Hunt accuses Johnson of hiding away

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Boris Johnson of running scared from the media and preventing a wider debate in the Tory Party.

In a personal attack on the Today programme Hunt contrasted Johnson’s reluctance to face the media with his hero Winston Churchill.

He said: “What would Churchill say if somebody who wants to be prime minister of the United Kingdom is hiding away from the media and not taking part in these big occasions?”

He added: “We can only have that debate if our front-runner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media and actually engaging in debates. Engaging in the TV debates.”

Hunt said the government could “do better” than Johnson’s proposal of leaving the EU without a deal.

My argument to the Conservative Party is: should we have someone who can at least try to get us some better choices? Because I think ultimately, it’s very defeatist to say, the only way that we can leave the EU is is a route that is potentially highly damaging to businesses.

I believe there is a deal to be done and I believe the package can be renegotiated but this is the debate we should be having. And this is the debate that our members want to have. And this is the debate I want to put to our members. We can only have that debate if our front runner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media, and actually engaging in debates, engaging in the TV debates.

Hunt who came a distant second to Johnson in the ballot of Tory MPs also contrasted his own willingness to appear before the media to Johnson’s public reticence.

I think this is the 16th time I’ve done this day programme in the last year, and he’s just done it once. You give us a hard time but you’re not monsters. And I think if you want to be prime minister of the United Kingdom, you have to get out there and make your case.

Public hustings is not the same as the scrutiny of the media, the scrutiny of TV debates. This is about the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

And he warned that Theresa May’s unopposed election as leader in 2016 should not be repeated.

What people are worried about is that we could be heading for a rerun of the 2016 campaign where we effectively had a coronation without a huge amount of scrutiny. I’m going to turn this into a rerun of the 2005 campaign. Were a little run a little known outsider, David Cameron came in and turned the tables and that’s the kind of real contest with proper scrutiny that we need to have.


Conservative Muslim Forum warning to Johnson

The chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum has compared Boris Johnson to Adolf Hitler and said he would quit the party if the former foreign secretary is elected as leader, PA reports.

Mohammed Amin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am not prepared to be a member of a party that chooses him as its leader. “I would resign after 36 years.”

Asked about Johnson’s popularity with grassroots members of the party, Amin said: “There are many horrible people who have been popular. Popularity is not the test.
“The test is, is this person sufficiently moral to be prime minister, and I believe he fails that test. A lot of Germans thought that Hitler was the right man for them.”

Told that that was a shocking comparison, Amin said: “Yes. I am not saying Boris Johnson wants to send people to the gas chamber, clearly he doesn’t. He’s a buffoon.
“But he, as far as I’m concerned, has insufficient concern about the nature of truth for me to ever be a member of a party that he leads.”

Amin went on: “We don’t expect our politicians, our prime ministers, to be saints.
“But we do require a basic level of morality and integrity. And of all the candidates in the Conservative Party leadership election, Boris Johnson is the only one that I believe fails that test.

Amin said a column Johnson wrote last August comparing women who wore burkas to “letter boxes and bank robbers” had put some Muslim women at risk.

“He knew exactly what effect it would have - it would lead to Muslim women who wear niqab and burka being verbally abused on the streets; in certain cases being physically assaulted, with people trying to tear it off. He chose to mock Muslim women who wear niqab and burka for his own purposes.”

Welcome to a hastily cobbled together Friday edition of Politics Live.

Conservative leadership candidates are in talks about joining forces to provide the strongest challenge to Boris Johnson. They are also trying to put pressure on Johnson to take part in the TV debates amid continuing signs he plans to duck them.

Meanwhile, Rory Stewart, who came seventh in the first ballot of Tory MPs, now says he could serve in a Cabinet led by Boris Johnson after previously ruling that out.

The international development secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we ended up in a crisis, and I fear no-deal Brexit would be a crisis, and if he were to wish me to come back, which I think is a little doubtful given the slight acrimony of the last few weeks, then, of course, I’d be honoured to serve.”

Also today: Chuka Umunna, who left Labour in February to found the Independent Group, has switched party once again and joined the Liberal Democrats.

Sir John Major has launched a blistering assault on Tory leadership candidates who have suggested parliament could be prorogued to push through Brexit, saying they were indulging in “gold-plated hypocrisy” and lacked leadership qualities.

And Britain’s businesses are being urged to step up their preparations for a no-deal Brexit amid signs that Theresa May’s successor could be prepared to leave the EU without a deal at the end of October.


Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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