Conservative Party leadership hopefuls Jeremy Hunt, Sajid David, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart all took part in last nights channel 4 hustings, all bar one, front runner and leadership contender Boris Johnson.
In what can only be described as a good-tempered hustings amongst the Tory leadership hopefuls, there was no clear winner of the hustings, although that said, Rory Stewart emerged as the favourite amongst audience members.
Questions varied from how do you intend to defeat Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage to caring for elderly members of society to what is your top priority if you become prime minister.
Michael Gove spoke passionately about the need to “prevent Jeremy Corbyn from getting into parliament” and that “the party needs someone who has strong beliefs in conservative principles” and further warned against the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn government who he said “would push Marxist economics”.
Throughout the hustings, Mr Gove spoke about his achievements in office and that he is often told something isn’t achievable and then proving sceptics wrong and further illustrated his point by talking about the leave campaign and winning.
Jeremy Hunt was the first candidate to attack Boris Johnson in which he said “I just want to say: where is Boris? If his team won’t let him out to debate with five friendly colleagues, how is he going to get on with 27 European colleagues? He should be here to answer that question.”
Throughout the hustings Jeremy spoke about being an entrepreneur and his ability to negotiate a deal and that he was the man to deliver Brexit, and subsequently this became a major theme of the hustings in which both Dominic Raab and Sajid David spoke about their respective backgrounds as a lawyer and banker and having been involved in multibillion dollar deals.
Rory Stewart, the outside horse whose campaign is clearly gaining momentum received the biggest applause from the audience as a result of his straight talking no nonsense and yet humorous approach to questions from the audience.
Mr Stewart said “the fundamental issue here is that there is a competition of machismo. Everyone is saying I’m tougher. Every time I have this debate everyone is like, trust me I’m the guy, I can defeat the impossible odds. And I’m accused of being a defeatist by trying to be realistic. It reminds me of trying to cram a whole series of rubbish bags into the rubbish bin, I was tempted to say believe in the bin, believe in Britain, its rubbish.”
In distancing himself from the other contenders, Mr Stewart said “all four other candidates, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Sajid David, are willing to contemplate a no deal Brexit as an option, but a no deal Brexit is nonsense. It’s going to deeply damage our economy.”
They say a week is a long time in politics, but the next 24 hours is going to be make or break for the remaining leadership hopefuls.