The Conservative leadership race is down to the final two contenders and Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt is coming after his opponent Boris Johnson, who is currently leading in the polls. On Monday, June 24th a comment written by Hunt was published in the Times, entitled, “Forget your private life Boris but man up and face me.”
A day prior, Hunt had already accused Johnson of “ducking” both media and public scrutiny, a criticism that has only been getting louder since Johnson chose not to participate in a TV debate during the earlier voting stages of the contest and seemed evasive in another.
At his official candidacy campaign launch to become Theresa May’s successor as leader of the conservative party and ultimately prime minister, Johnson was also said to only have taken the low number of six questions from press representatives and answer them vaguely.
This is point that Hunt seems to be zeroing in on in his pursuit of Johnson. On June 23rd, the BBC reported Hunt as saying that people, "don't want a big debate," about politicians' private lives but that a would-be PM, "should answer questions on everything." Hunt specifically pointed towards the issue of Brexit, saying, "What people care about is who is going to be the wise prime minister who navigates this country out of the biggest constitutional crisis in our lifetimes."
The private life part of his statements refer to an incident Johnson has refused to comment on, that took place on Friday morning, June 21st. Fellow party members have urged him to address questions about a row with his girlfriend to avoid the matter turning into a "distraction". In the early hours of June 21st, a neighbour called the police because he recorded a heated row at the home Johnson shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, in south London.
The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, was reported by the BBC to have commented that it was, "always easier to just give an explanation," and then move on to political issues. Fox was worried because, "What we can't have is it being a distraction from explanations about wider policy.” Hunt echoed the same sentiment, when he repeated his calls for Johnson to debate live with him on television to finally face the "difficult" questions about Brexit.