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Boris Johnson accused of lack of substance on Brexit at Tory hustings

The leadership candidate offered a ‘worrying lack of detail’, according to one Conservative MP who supports Jeremy Hunt.

Boris Johnson was criticised by some for a lack of answers on Brexit (Ben Birchall/PA)
Boris Johnson was criticised by some for a lack of answers on Brexit (Ben Birchall/PA)

Boris Johnson was criticised by Jeremy Hunt supporters for his lack of detail on Brexit as he faced Tory members.

Speaking during a party leadership hustings in Birmingham, Mr Johnson said Britain must be prepared to leave without an agreement on October 31 – and said that stance would help the country “get the deal we need”.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale and a supporter of Mr Hunt, tweeted: “Disappointing from @BorisJohsnon in Birmingham no substance in his answers on how he will leave the EU. Worrying lack of detail in answer to any of the members questions #ConservativeLeadership #HasToBeHunt.”

Greg Hands, another Hunt supporter, said Mr Johnson’s outlook appears to have shifted since the BBC debate.

He tweeted: “Boris’s promo video at the Birmingham hustings repeats the line on Brexit to come out 31st October ‘deal or no deal’. Which is rather different to what he told MPs in the BBC debate that it was only ’eminently feasible’.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a supporter of Mr Johnson, tweeted: “An excellent performance from @BorisJohnson at the first hustings. Strong, clear answers and we will leave by 31st October.”

Mr Johnson also received support from prominent Brexit supporter Owen Paterson, who described his performance as “good natured and positive”, as well as Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, who tweeted: “An assured and positive performance by @BorisJohnson at the Conservative leader hustings in Birmingham. Clear that Boris will be the leader with the political courage to take us out of Europe on 31st October #BackBoris.”

Mr Johnson repeatedly refused to answer questions about police being called to his flat.

The line of questioning saw moderator Iain Dale booed, but Tory MP Vicky Ford felt he was right to ask.

“Well I find myself with @IainDale again,” she tweeted. “He’s right to ask questions that are on people’s minds.”

Mr Hunt’s supporters were out in force on social media as he took his place on stage following Mr Johnson.

Among his more high-profile backers was Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who praised his handling of a number of issues – including literacy and LGBT rights – in a series of tweets.

She wrote: “@Jeremy_Hunt, in answer to questions on illiteracy, is showing that his policy platform isn’t just a list of headlines. He has the detail of how we can deliver behind each ambition. #HastobeHunt #ConservativeLeadership.

“Leadership = @Jeremy_Hunt’s answer to LGBT rights and what’s taught in the classroom. #HastobeHunt #ConservativeLeadership.”

She also described Mr Hunt as “clear and credible” on the issue of Europe, while fellow supporter Jackie Doyle-Price backed him to deliver an “orderly Brexit”.

She tweeted: “Seeing politics through the prism of leave or remain is destroying our party. We are all Brexiteers now. Time to deliver An orderly brexit #HastobeHunt.”

PA

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