Jeremy Hunt refuses to rule out Conservative management contest earlier than 2024 election

It comes after the newest tranche of partygate fines issued by the Metropolitan Police left Boris Johnson and the Cabinet Secretary unscathed.

Amid the episode’s fallout and following bruising losses in final week’s native elections, Mr Hunt advised The Times Magazine it was not the “right time” for a management change because of the warfare in Ukraine.

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“But I would be very open with you that I don’t rule out a return in the future,” he added.

Speaking to Times Radio, he additionally stated the “setbacks” the celebration suffered within the native elections weren’t simply “mid-term blues” however mirrored the cost-of-living disaster.

“Underneath it, I think the reason that we got such a kicking was economic concerns that many families had,” he stated.

“We are faced with a situation now where we have very, very low underlying growth in the economy.

“To win an election, the Conservative Party has to vow a well-funded NHS and the prospect of tax cuts. If we make individuals select between one or the opposite, we’re not going to win the election.”

Jeremy Hunt says a leadership contest could take place before the 2024 election.

Earlier on Thursday, it was announced the Met had made around 50 further fixed penalty notice referrals as part of its investigation into possible lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and across Whitehall.

It brought the number of fines to more than 100 – with Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak hit with fixed penalty notices in April over a birthday party held for the Prime Minister in No 10’s Cabinet Room in June 2020.

Deputy Labour chief Angela Rayner stated Mr Johnson broke his personal guidelines on a “record-breaking scale”, adding that “Britain deserves higher”.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman stated following the Met’s replace that neither the PM nor Cabinet Secretary Simon Case have been amongst these fined within the newest batch.

The Prime Minister confirmed he was not one of the most recent recipients, nor was his wife, following a Cabinet away day in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr Johnson said he was “certain we’ll have lots to say about that when the factor’s completed” after being asked about the extent of law-breaking in Downing Street as he arrived for a Cabinet meeting in Staffordshire on Thursday.

Ministers dodged questions on whether they still had faith in the PM when asked about the latest development at the same event.

Home Secretary Priti Patel failed to say whether or not she still supported Mr Johnson. Health Secretary Sajid Javid also chose not to answer when asked why the PM would not resign, despite Sir Keir Starmer’s promise to do so if he is handed a fixed penalty notice over similar allegations.

There have been ongoing calls for the PM to resign over the saga from opposition MPs, as well as his own backbenches, but he has repeatedly said he is determined to get on with the job.

In addition to the Scotland Yard probe and the investigation by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, into the partygate claims, the PM is facing a third inquiry by the Privileges Committee into whether he misled Parliament with his repeated assurances that Covid rules were followed in No 10.

Asked in Stoke-on-Trent if his previous statements about not knowing rules were broken could be true, given the extent of the police fines, Mr Johnson said: “As quickly as I’ve any extra to say about that, you’ll be among the many very first to know.”

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg made clear his continued backing of the Prime Minister, saying Mr Johnson “deserves” his help.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi additionally stated they nonetheless had religion of their chief when requested concerning the fines as they attended the Staffordshire assembly.

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