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Jeremy Hunt backs Rwanda-style plan and hits out at 'unfunded tax cuts' promised by rivals

10 July 2022, 12:34 | Updated: 12 July 2022, 10:15

By Sophie Barnett

Jeremy Hunt has revealed he supports a Rwanda-style migrant plan and criticised "unfunded tax cuts" promised by leadership rivals, as he joined the race to become Britain's next prime minister.

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Mr Hunt, who last night launched his bid to replace Boris Johnson, exclusively told LBC he would support a similar plan that creates "proper, safe routes for people coming from countries where they're trying to claim asylum".

He said he wants to see more asylum seekers coming to the UK through "safe and legal" means.

As he laid out his leadership campaign on LBC, Mr Hunt also hit out at "unfunded tax cuts" promised by rivals in the race to run the Conservative party.

He said people don't want big promises, but a sense that there's a "proper plan in place for the economy, the NHS, and things like the defence of the nation given the aggression we have seen from Vladimir Putin".

He said people "want honesty about the trade-offs".

"Some of my competitors in this race are promising personal tax cuts, and I would say no Conservative should offer unfunded tax cuts, because that is a tax cut for people now, which has to be paid back by future generations."

Read more: Battle for Britain's next Prime Minister begins as Penny Mordaunt joins leadership race

He said the Conservative party has had too much "enthusiasm and boosterism" as he promised a "totally different style".

"I think people are ready for steady but vigorous, marching in the right direction, but without constantly promising the earth," he told Tom.

"That's Starmerism isn't it? That sort of boring, gentle government?" Tom hit back.

"No Labour government has ever left the economy in a better shape than they've found it," he replied.

Mr Hunt, former cabinet minister, pledged to reduce corporation tax to 15%, promised he would not scrap HS2 and confirmed he supports changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Hunt joins fellow cabinet minister and former health secretary Sajid Havid, who also pledged to reduce corporation tax, in the race to become prime minister.

Read more: Chris Bryant demands Tories boot out Boris and install caretaker PM

Other Tories gunning for the top spot include former chancellor Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grants.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt became the latest to join the contest when she launched her campaign on Sunday.

In a glossy video, the MP for Portsmouth North said "our leadership has to change" as she launched her 'pm4pm' campaign.

"It needs to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship," she said.

Attorney General Suella Braverman, chairman of the foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat and former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch have also put their names forward for PM.

It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ruled himself out of the contest to become the new Conservative leader and Prime Minister, saying his focus is on his current job and "keeping this great country safe".

The race to replace Boris Johnson is already proving to be brutal with each candidate receiving criticism from rivals and a number of Tories pledging their support for candidates.

Liz Truss has been branded a "Remainer in Brexiteer's clothing" whilst fears have been raised about another "Theresa May experience" if Jeremy Hunt were to secure the position.

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, is facing backlash for raising taxes and questions have been raised about how out-of-touch the the billionaire is, with the UK experiencing a cost-of-living crisis.

While Nadhim Zahawi has received criticism over his support for Boris Johnson and refusing to resign amid the Chris Pincher scandal.

The public mud-slinging match has also involved Sajid Javid who has been slated over his role as Health Secretary through Covid and his alleged stance on "opposing lockdowns".

In their bids, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt have both promised to cancel Rishi Sunak's planned rise in corporation tax, and instead cut the 25% rate to 15%.

They give separate interviews to the Telegraph, with Mr Javid also pledging to scrap the national insurance rise that was brought in when he was health secretary to help pay for the NHS and social care.

He says: "I'm not sure I would have done it if I had been chancellor, but I was focused on my job and I'm not trying to do other people's jobs for them."

In their pledges, Grant Shapps and Nadhim Zahawi both promised to increase defence spending whilst Liz Truss will offer the party "classic Conservative principles".

The Tories are reportedly eyeing up a September deadline for the selection of a new Prime Minister amid fears the government is 'paralysed' by the current situation.

Mr Johnson has said he will remain in his post until a successor is elected, but also pledged not to make any major policy changes.

It has led to fears the government will be in a 'state of paralysis' over the coming months.

The Telegraph reports the 1922 Committee executive are drawing up plans to 'whittle down' the number of Tory candidates, therefore speeding up the process of selection with the aim of having a new Prime Minister in office by September 5.