What Is Jeremy Hunt's Stance On Abortion, Brexit And The NHS?

24 June 2019, 12:25 | Updated: 24 June 2019, 12:43

Conservative leadership contest Jeremy Hunt
Conservative leadership contest Jeremy Hunt. Picture: Getty

Jeremy Hunt was successfully voted through to the final two candidates in the contest to replace Theresa May as Tory leader and Prime Minister. But where does he stand on the NHS, abortion or Brexit?

The Foreign Secretary, who has previously been the Secretary of State for Health, and Culture, is running against Boris Johnson for the Conservative leadership.

But questions have been raised over his stance on issues including abortion and Brexit.

Where does Jeremy Hunt stand on abortion?

Jeremy Hunt has argued in favour of halving the legal time limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 12, but insists he will not seek to change the law if he becomes the next Prime Minister.

Mr Hunt told Sky News: "These are matters of conscience, yes, my view hasn't changed on that. I respect the fact other people have very different views and that's why these matters are matters for free votes in the House of Commons," and reaffirmed the position to the BBC: "No government I lead will ever seek to change the law on abortion".

He also told Good Morning Britain that his view on abortion had "nothing to do with what I want to do as Prime Minister" and was "not going to seek to change the law and when I was health secretary for longer than anyone else I didn't seek to change the law".

But despite his opinion, Mr Hunt has retained support in the leadership contest from Amber Rudd and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt.

Critics, including Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, have described his view as "one step forward, two steps back" on women's rights.

Labour MP Jess Philips scolded Mr Hunt for his views, saying: "How about we base this stuff on evidence and science and keep what you think is best based on no experience out of this?"

Jeremy Hunt on Brexit: "No deal better than no Brexit"

After campaigning for the UK to Remain in the European Union, the leadership hopeful has since said he would support leaving the EU.

Jeremy Hunt has said that if there is "no prospect" of securing a deal to leave the European Union by the current deadline of October 31st, he would rather leave with no deal than remain, backing no-deal as a "last resort".

He told Nick Ferrari he would send somebody the EU would be "prepared to talk to" in order to secure a deal that could be passed in Parliament.

"No deal would be better than no Brexit, but it wouldn't be my first choice," he said, adding: "If you send someone they're prepared to talk to, someone who's not going to blink and prepared to walk away, then yes I think we can do a deal."

Jeremy Hunt provoked backlash after accusing Brussels of wanting to "punish" the UK for wanting to leave the bloc, and drew comparison between the Soviet Union and the EU in a speech at the Conservative Party Conference last year.

"The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving," he said.

Jeremy Hunt and the NHS

Jeremy Hunt was the longest serving Health Secretary in NHS history after his appointment in 2012, and during his tenure in the position, the NHS had the slowest period of investment in the NHS foundation as demands on the service were growing.

Mr Hunt was also heavily criticised for his handling of the Junior doctors row - sparked when he said changes to contracts were essential to delivering a 7-day NHS in England by 2020. Doctors went on a series of strikes in 2016, with emergency care not covered for the first time in NHS history on two days.

The leadership contender told Nick Ferrari it had been a "struggle" to meet his target of having 5,000 GPs by next year, a target which he says will be missed.

He said the issue was "not a lack of GPs going in" but instead the number of people "retiring earlier".

"100,000 more people are working in the NHS than five years ago, but there's 100,000 more vacancies," he said.

"As the numbers going into the NHS have increased, the pressure from an ageing population has gone up even more".