Jeremy Hunt is proving to be a more aggressive rival than many in the Boris Johnson campaign expected. Shortly before the last round of parliamentary voting, Hunt talked about putting ‘Boris through his paces’ which made him sound more like a personal trainer than a political opponent. But since making the final two, Hunt has been far punchier. His attacks on Boris Johnson this morning for ducking various TV debates are properly aggressive.
Hunt’s attacks are garnering more attention because, after a relatively smooth parliamentary stage, Boris Johnson is having a wobble. The fallout from the Thursday night incident at his partner’s flat isn’t helping and his Brexit answer is still far too woolly. It would still be a huge upset if Boris Johnson didn’t take the Tory crown. I understand that the Johnson campaign will soon move to take on Hunt more directly and given that Hunt campaigned for Remain, responded to the referendum result by suggesting a second referendum, and has been in Cabinet for both the Brexit delays one can see lines that would hurt Hunt with Tory members.
But for Boris Johnson it is not enough just to win this contest, he needs to win it well. He’ll face a mighty task in his first 100 days in office and he’ll need the political authority and momentum that a big mandate from the members would give him.