'He's Definitely Running': Jeremy Hunt 'Testing The Waters' To Stand As PM If BoJo Is Ousted

© AP Photo / Jane BarlowAP_19186678942381
AP_19186678942381 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.05.2022
Pressure has been mounting on Boris Johnson to quit since the Met Police issued him with a fine for a surprise birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 as part of its inquiry into "partygate". It was also recently reported that the “excoriating” full findings of the Sue Gray inquiry are likely to be “very damaging” to the PM.
As Westminster waits for the full report from Sue Gray into the so-called “partygate” row, expected to be so incriminatory that Boris Johnson might be forced to resign, a new potential challenger to lead the Conservative Party is reported to be waiting in the wings.
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is gearing up to launch a Tory leadership bid if the incumbent UK Prime Minister is ousted, according to his allies, cited by The Mail on Sunday.
Hunt, who was a fervent supporter of Britain remaining in the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum, has reportedly been wooing possible backers and, to boost his chances, has distanced himself from his “Remain” views.
Thus, according to the report, he is now courting pro-Brexit MPs as he seeks to shore up support in anticipation of the Prime Minister losing a confidence vote over “partygate” and, possibly, a poor Tory showing at the local elections on 5 May.
“He’s definitely running. There’s a significant groundswell of support,” a senior Jeremy Hunt supporter was quoted as saying.

“He’s going round seeing everyone to test the waters. He says he is pro-Brexit now, that he is not going to reverse it. He’s a nice bloke, but I don’t know what the question is, if 'Jeremy Hunt' is the answer,” a Eurosceptic Tory MP reportedly said.

The MP for South-West Surrey is hoping to present himself as a “safe pair of hands” after Boris Johnson’s scandal-mired premiership, according to the outlet.
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing and speaking during during the Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ) session, in the House of Commons, in London, on April 27, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.04.2022
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In 2019 Hunt, the longest-serving Health Secretary in British political history, who also held the post of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 9 July 2018 until 24 July 2019, finished second in the election race and resigned after Boris Johnson became Tory leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Hunt was subsequently elected as chairman of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee in January 2020.
The politician whose ambition to become a Tory leader has not “completely vanished” would purportedly rely on a team of supporters he has assembled, including former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell, to trigger a leadership challenge, should the opportunity present itself.
Previously, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak had been tipped as a likely successor when rumours of a Tory leadership challenge to Boris Johnson first began to circulate.
However, Sunak has since has plunged to the bottom of ConservativeHome website’s monthly popularity ratings because of revelations about his wife’s non-dom tax status coupled with his US Green Card controversy.
Канцлер казначейства Великобритании Риши Сунак со своей женой Акшатой Мурти в Британском музее в Лондоне - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.04.2022
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Accordingly, Hunt’s team is said to be actively courting Rishi Sunak’s supporters in the One Nation group of Tory MPs.
“Six weeks ago you would have said it’s a done deal, Rishi’s got it. Not any more,” added an insider.
Boris Johnson’s Cabinet allies have reportedly been dismayed by the prospect of Hunt as a possible leadership contender. One of them is said to have described the 2019 candidate in the Conservative Party leadership election as “Theresa May without the personality”.

Tory Leadership Challenge Brewing

Rumours of a Tory leadership bid from Hunt come since Sue Gray's report is expected to “make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister,” according to officials familiar with the contents of the findings cited by The Times.
“There's an immense amount of pressure on her - her report could be enough to end him,” insiders had added earlier.
The civil servant published an interim report about alleged lockdown-violating gatherings at Downing Street in early February, saying that there had been “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.
The fallout from the scandal triggered a Scotland Yard probe into a total of 12 gatherings at Downing Street and Whitehall that reportedly breached strict coronavirus lockdown rules in the UK between 2020 and 2021.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the 10 Downing Street, in London, on April 19, 2022, to give a statement at the House of Commons - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.04.2022
‘Excoriating’ Sue Gray Partygate Report 'Could Be Enough to End’ Boris Johnson
Recently, Boris Johnson, his wife, Carrie, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were fined by the Metropolitan Police over a surprise birthday party for the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 that was ruled to have breached lockdown restrictions. Further penalties are anticipated to be issued as the probe continues.
The full findings of the inquiry led by the senior civil servant will be released only after the Metropolitan Police complete their investigations which, it is hoped, will be in May.
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