The Tory leadership contest reaches its high point tonight as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt sit down for one-on-one interviews with Andrew Neil. But even if the pair manage to avoid any slip-ups, the race for No.10 has so far produced plenty of gaffes. As this year’s contest reaches its final stages, Mr S. lists his favourites blunders so far:
Rory Stewart’s phone gaffe:
Rory Stewart made waves with his unorthodox campaign, a back-to-basics pitch that showed up his slicker but less authentic rivals. This facade came crashing down when Stewart tweeted a video of him in Kew Gardens. Eagle-eyed followers noticed something bizarre: while Stewart’s arm was moving around, the camera stayed completely still. It became obvious that Stewart was, in fact, not holding his phone, but pretending to do so. Quizzed on Twitter about whether he was ‘pretending to hold [his] phone’, Stewart responded simply by tweeting ‘Yes’.
Now – if anyone is around and wants to talk – in Kew Gardens – for the next hour pic.twitter.com/E45A26Y5uR
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) May 28, 2019
Jeremy Hunt’s fox flip-floppery:
In a botched bid to expand his support base, Jeremy Hunt told the Daily Telegraph that he would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting. Perhaps predictably, Hunt then became the hunted as he was roundly condemned. It wasn’t long before he was forced to perform a clumsy U-turn. ‘This is not something I will seek to change as prime minister,’ he later said.
The strange incident of Rory Stewart’s tie:
The scene was set: it was Rory Stewart’s big night. Stewart had spent weeks trekking around Britain, gaining an increasingly loyal – and an increasingly hopeful – support base. This was his chance to put his rivals to shame.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. The night went wrong for several reasons, but Stewart certainly didn’t help himself when he bizarrely removed his tie just a few minutes into the debate. Viewers were left baffled. And Stewart didn’t help clear things up when he explained his reason for taking his tie off. The reason? He felt his rivals were ‘moving off into an alternate reality’. Next time, Rory, just say it was too hot.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) June 18, 2019
Hunt’s gag falls flat:
During a hustings in Bournemouth, Jeremy Hunt’s attempt at humour – which he’d probably spent hours concocting – fell flat. Recalling how he had agonised over which slogan to choose (yes, somehow there were worse candidates than #HastobeHunt), he quipped to the audience that someone had suggested to him #HuntyMcHuntFace. Given that this was a desperately unoriginal rehashing of a three year old joke, it somehow got a decent reception from the audience. But a few seconds later, Hunt’s punchline ensured that any laughter quickly dissipated:
— rak (@rakrak) June 22, 2019
Boris’s big sacrifice:
Boris Johnson is rarely lost for words. But he was left stumped by an interview with Channel 4 News. Boris was asked for an example of when he had set his own interest aside for the benefit of the country. After fumbling for an answer, Boris had this to say:
‘It’s embarrassing but true that it is obviously possible to make more money by not being a full-time politician…’
“It is obviously possible to make more money by not being a full-time politician.”
That was Boris Johnson’s response after being asked when he’d set aside his own self-interest for the benefit of the country. pic.twitter.com/60u8hqOTmZ
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 5, 2019
Jeremy Hunt’s ‘peddling optimism’ clanger:
Jeremy Hunt performed well in the ITV leadership debate. But he did drop a big clanger when he accused his rival of ‘peddling optimism’. Needless to say it backfired badly, with Hunt being branded a drab ‘defeatist’ by Boris. It wasn’t long before Hunt’s words came back to haunt him – in the form of a Boris campaign meme: