As candidates line up to become the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister, we take a look at one of the first to put himself forward, Jeremy Hunt…

Who is Jeremy Hunt?

Hunt, 55, is the MP for South West Surrey and has held several ministerial positions since he was elected in 2005.

He serves as the chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee but he was previously secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport in the run-up to London hosting the Games between 2010 and 2012.

He was the longest-serving health secretary in British political history after serving between 2012 and 2018. During his tenue, he oversaw the imposition of a controversial new junior doctors’ contract in England.

He was briefly foreign secretary from July 2018 to July 2019. He then took on Johnson in the 2019 Tory party leadership contest and finished second.

What did he say last time?

In 2019, Hunt – who was a Remainer during the Brexit referendum – said he would cancel the tuition fee debts of young entrepreneurs who start businesses and employ people.

He also proposed a corporation tax cut and an increase in defence spending, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated would cost between £37 billion and £68bn, leaving no scope to relieve pressure on other spending departments without tax rises or risking higher borrowing.

He insisted it was essential his party delivered Brexit before a General Election or risk dramatically losing support.

Hunt insisted he would give full citizens’ rights to EU nationals living in the UK even if the UK left without a deal.

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Meanwhile, some of his other proposals included bringing back fox hunting, as he claimed the illegal practice was an important part of the countryside’s “heritage”.

A ban on fox hunting and other wild mammals was implemented in England and Wales in 2004.

What’s he saying this time?

Hunt has said he wants to cut “all taxes” if he wins the leadership race and has already pledged to cut corporation tax to 15%.

One of the most eyebrow-raising announcements he has made so far though is his pledge to make former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey his deputy if he becomes prime minister.

She is one of Parliament’s most passionate Brexiteers and it suggests even candidates like Hunt – who is regarded as being more moderate than some of his rivals – are veering towards the right.

Hunt has also confirmed that if he is elected leader he will continue Johnson’s contentious policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda and push through the Bill to unilaterally change the Northern Ireland Protocol.

What is he saying on Scotland?

Hunt has ruled out another referendum on Scottish independence for the next decade.

Asked by host Sophie Raworth if there are any circumstances in which he would allow a second referendum, Hunt said: "Not in the next 10 years."

Back in 2019, Hunt claimed he was the PM Nicola Sturgeon "least wants" because of his commitment to keeping Scotland in the Union.

When he visited Peterhead three years ago, he outlined his priorities to fishing industry leaders saying he believed in the Union “with every fibre of my being”.

How has he voted in the past?

Hunt has generally voted for equal gay rights. In 2013 he voted in favour of allowing same sex couples of marry. In 2014, he voted to make same sex marriage available to armed forces personnel outside the UK.

In 2015, he voted against assisted dying.

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He has consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits and has generally voted for a stricter asylum system. In June 2020, he voted to remove rights for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, spouses, vulnerable adults and dependent adults to join a family member who is legally present in the UK.

Who is backing him?

McVey is obviously backing Hunt while Ludlow MP Philip Dunne and Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski have also pledged their allegiance.

Other names behind Hunt include Peter Bottomley, Andrew Mitchell, Dan Poulter, Steve Brine, Jonathan Djanogly and David Morris.