UK Politics

Tory leadership candidates compared: Johnson v Hunt

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt

Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are going head-to-head to become the next Tory leader and prime minister.

After getting the backing of Tory MPs, they must now try to convince around 160,000 Conservative Party members to support them in the ballot for the top job.

But where do the potential new prime ministers stand on key issues?

Here's a quick guide to their positions on Brexit, Tax and spending, and Health and Education.

Compare the candidates' policies and careers

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more


Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Would leave the EU with no deal, but it's not his preferred option. - Wants changes to the Irish backstop and proposes sending a new negotiating team to Brussels. - Wants to make changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and thinks it's possible to get them done by 31 October, but has not ruled out an extension.

Boris Johnson

- Wants to leave on 31 October, the deadline for Brexit set by the EU, with or without a deal. - Says he wants to leave on the basis of a new withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU, with the backstop removed and replaced with “alternative arrangements”. - If this is not possible, he says he would ask the EU to agree to a “standstill period” during which the UK could negotiate a free trade deal with the bloc. - Failing this, he says the UK must be prepared to leave on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if required, and the country would “get ready for that outcome”. - Says he would demonstrate “creative ambiguity” over when the UK will pay the £39bn ‘divorce’ payment it is due to give the EU as part of the negotiated deal. He has also said the money should be retained until there is “greater clarity about the way forward”.


Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into the next Silicon Valley, a "hub of innovation". - Pledged to slash business taxes to the lowest in Europe to attract firms to Britain after Brexit and reduce corporation tax. - Wants to boost defence spending by £15bn over the next five years.

Boris Johnson

- Pledges to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 by raising the 40% tax threshold to £80,000. - Plans to pay for the reported £9.6bn annual cost of the cut in part from a pot set aside by the Treasury for a possible no-deal Brexit, and in part by increasing employee National Insurance payments. - However he says his tax proposals will begin by “lifting thresholds for those on lowest pay”. - Pledges to “find the money” to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers over an as-yet unspecified timetable. - Promises to speed up the delivery of ‘full fibre’ internet connection, with the super-fast service available to all by 2025, eight years earlier than currently planned.


Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Mental health support in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content. - A cut in interest rate paid on tuition fees. - Long term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession in return for a guarantee that no one leaves the education system without a "rigorous qualification" sufficient to work up to at least the average salary.

Boris Johnson

- Promises to raise spending on secondary school pupils to £5,000 each. - Called the funding gap between some schools in cities compared to those in rural areas a “disturbing reality”. - Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS. - Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party “national consensus”.


Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- The foreign secretary campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer. - He even suggested, to widespread criticism, that the EU was like the Soviet Union. However, he has said his party would be committing “political suicide” if it tried to push through a no-deal Brexit. - An MP for South West Surrey since 2005, Mr Hunt was made culture secretary under the coalition government in 2010 and oversaw the 2012 London Olympics before becoming health secretary. - In 2018, he became the longest-serving health minister, and arguably one of the most controversial, since the NHS was created, completing six years in the role. During his tenure, he clashed with unions over contracts for junior doctors, who took part in a series of walkouts in 2015.

Boris Johnson

- The 55-year Eton and Oxford-educated former political journalist has coveted the top job for many years, but was beaten to No 10 by his contemporary David Cameron. - After eight years as mayor of London, he returned to Parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2016. - A leading Brexiteer, Mr Johnson had been at odds with Theresa May’s Brexit vision for some time before he eventually quit as foreign secretary in protest last year. - Polls suggest he is a popular figure with members of the wider Conservative party.

Out of the two, Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary, has more experience in government and has held more cabinet posts than Mr Johnson.

But on a personal level, the two candidates have similar backgrounds - being educated at private schools and both attending Oxford University. Mr Johnson was born in New York to English parents, giving him dual nationality. But he later renounced his US citizenship.

How did we get here?

Tory MPs voted five times to choose their preferred candidates.

In the fifth and final round of voting, Boris Johnson came out on top with 160 out of the 313 votes cast. One ballot paper was spoiled.

Jeremy Hunt was second with 77 votes and Michael Gove was eliminated after securing the support of 75 fellow MPs.

But 10 candidates started the race on 10 June.

Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey were eliminated in the first round after failing to get the necessary 17 votes.

Matt Hancock, who won 20 votes, later withdrew from the contest, pledging his support for Boris Johnson.

Jeremy Hunt: What's his track record?

Boris Johnson: What's his track record?

Dominic Raab was eliminated in round two, after falling three votes short of the required 33.

Rory Stewart's campaign came to an end after he finished last in the third ballot.

Thursday saw Sajid Javid and Michael Gove knocked out after they finished last in successive ballots.

Boris Johnson has won the most votes in all five ballots of MPs so far. He also topped a Conservative Home poll of more than 1,000 Tory party members before the votes on Thursday 20 June.

The bookmakers are offering odds on who the next leader will be.

Mr Johnson's strong showing in all the rounds so far make him the odds-on favourite, despite recent newspaper headlines about his private life.

The two candidates will now take part in a series of hustings or debates to try to win over party members. They will be held across the country throughout the rest of June and July.

The winner will be announced on 23 July.

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