Jeremy Hunt's conference antics earn him a cold shoulder from the Tories
Watch: The foreign secretary's Tory conference speech contained an extraordinary attack on the EU.
“Jeremy Hunt is using my language, the EU is the new Soviet Union,” said Nigel Farage after the foreign secretary used his Tory conference speech this week to make a remarkable attack on the European Union, accusing the bloc of acting like the Soviet Union.
In his speech, Hunt had declared: “What happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream?’ The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving. And the lesson from history is clear. If you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won't diminish it will grow.”
While the remark was also well received by party activists in the hall, others were less impressed.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said that when the foreign secetary compared the EU to the Soviet Union, he was being “unwise” and “insulting”.
Closer to home, Tory donor Alexander Temerko said: “I think Jeremy doesn’t know what the Soviet Union was. His comparison is very incorrect.”
Various Tory MPs were also known to be deeply unimpressed, with POLITICO’s Tom McTague tweeting the verdict from one of their number who reckoned that Hunt had blown his leadership chances.
And then came the coup de grâce. The Conservatives posted transcripts of almost every cabinet minister of state’s conference speech on their press website. But Hunt’s speech was conspicuously absent. Almost as if they were embarrassed…
In retrospect, if Hunt wanted to do a bit of EU-bashing, perhaps he should have been more like Dominic Raab who went with a less offensive: “If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious. And they need to do it now.”
At the end of conference, while Hunt’s odds on being next Tory leader went up to 9/1 with Bet365, the same bookies cut Raab’s odds to 10/1.