Politics

Boris Johnson And Jeremy Hunt: How The Conservative Leadership Contenders Voted On Defence

How did the two contenders to be the next Prime Minister vote on defence issues?

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are competing for the leadership of the Conservative Party (Pictures: UK Parliament).

The UK is set to have a new Prime Minister by the end of this month.

After Theresa May announced she will resign as Conservative leader once a new one was chosen, the Tory leadership race began.

Five ballots took place among Tory MPs and the contenders to the role went from 10 to just two.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are the two finalists.

Mr Johnson, a former foreign secretary, has promised to give defence required funding, without giving specific details, while his team has told Forces News that he is committed to the current defence budget of £39 billion per year.

He has also said he wants to end "unfair" persecution of Northern Ireland veterans involved in historic allegations.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt has said he wants historic allegation issues to be handled quickly, while also pledging to spend an extra £15 billion on defence until 2024.

He also wants to cut taxes for firms who hire veterans and to put the Armed Forces Covenant into law.

Conservative Party members will be asked to cast their postal vote and the contender with the highest number of supporters will become the new leader.

The winner is due to be announced on 23 July.

Ahead of the new leader being elected, we take a look at the two final contenders' voting records in defence matters.

Boris Johnson

The former foreign secretary and Major of London has won the highest number of votes in all five ballot rounds among Conservative MPs.

A recent survey by ConservativeHome also revealed that almost 62% of the polled party members would vote for Mr Johnson as their next leader.

He is currently the pollsters' most likely candidate to become the new leader and the next British Prime Minister.

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Boris Johnson has won the highest number of votes in all five ballot rounds among Conservative MPs (Picture: PA).

Iraq War

While Mr Johnson was one of the 585 MPs absent for the 24 September 2002 vote on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, since November of the same year he has consistently voted in favour of UK intervention in Iraq.

On 25 November 2002, Boris Johnson voted against requiring the support of the UN Security Council and a vote in the Commons before committing the UK to military action in Iraq.

Three months later, on 26 February 2003, he voted to endorse the UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Said resolution provided Iraq with a final opportunity to comply with disarmament obligations.

Having Iraq failed to comply with the UN Security Council Resolution, a discussion was held in the Commons to discuss what steps the UK should take. Mr Johnson voted in favour of using all necessary means to ensure Iraq’s disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. This was followed, two days later, by the UK invasion of Iraq.

In line with his voting record concerning the intervention in Iraq, Boris Johnson voted against saying that the case for the war in Iraq had not been established.

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Mr Johnson has consistently voted in favour of UK intervention in Iraq.

Iraq War Investigations

Boris Johnson almost always supported the investigation into the Iraq War.

Since 2003, he has voted in Parliament in favour of an independent inquiry into the handling of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Over the years, he also voted for comprehensive independent judicial inquiries into the Iraq War and the decision to go to war in Iraq. He supported these ideas in a series of votes that took place from July 2003 until March 2008.

On 30 November 2016, however, he was absent for a vote on the investigation into the contrast between public statements and private policy in the Iraq War.

Trident

Between 2007 and 2016, Boris Johnson almost always voted for replacing the UK’s Trident Nuclear Programme with a different, new nuclear weapons system.

In June 2015, Mr Johnson supported with his vote a series of proposed spending cuts and changes to the welfare system in favour of spending on new nuclear weapons.

In November of the same year, he was in favour of renewing the Trident programme, but less than a year later, in July 2016, he voted to support replacing the four Trident nuclear missile submarines to maintain the UK’s continuous at sea nuclear deterrent.

Trident submarine
The Vanguard class is a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service with the Royal Navy (Picture: MOD).

Military action against Daesh

Boris Johnson has consistently supported the military action against Daesh and the Islamic State (IS). On 2 December 2015, he voted in favour of UK air strikes against the IS in Syria.

Jeremy Hunt

The Foreign Secretary won a spot to the final round of Conservative party leadership by passing the fifth round of votes among Tory MPs earlier this month.

Seventy-seven Conservative MPs backed Mr Hunt, in contrast to the 75 who backed third-runner up Michael Gove.

	Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt Picture PA
Jeremy Hunt won a spot to the final round of Conservative party leadership (Picture: PA).

Iraq War

Jeremy Hunt has been an MP since 2005, and has not voted on the Iraq War, which took place in 2003.

 

Iraq War investigations

Over the years, Mr Hunt has generally voted in favour of investigations into the Iraq War.

In 2006, he voted for a further inquiry into the war and an inquiry by a select committee of Privy Counsellors.

Between 2007 and 2009, in line with the decisions supported in 2006, he also consistently backed the principle that there should be an inquiry into the Iraq War by an independent committee. In 2008 and 2009, he opposed a motion saying the time for an inquiry into the Iraq War was not right yet.

In 2016, Jeremy Hunt voted against an investigation into the contrast between public statements and private actions in the run to the Iraq War.

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Mr Hunt has generally voted in favour of investigations into the Iraq War.

Trident

Mr Hunt has consistently voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system.

In 2007, he voted to maintain the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent beyond the life of the existing system.

Since 2015, he has supported the idea of renewing the current Trident system with a new nuclear weapons systems, while also supporting proposed spending cuts and changes to the welfare system in favour of an increase on new nuclear weapons spending.

In 2016, Jeremy Hunt voted in favour of spending £200 billion on new nuclear weapons and supported the idea of replacing the four Trident nuclear missile submarines to maintain the UK’s continuous at sea nuclear deterrent.  

Trident submarine
Mr Hunt was in favour of supported the idea of replacing the four Trident nuclear missile submarines.

Military action against Daesh

Jeremy Hunt has consistently voted in favour of military action against the IS in Syria over the years.

As early as 2013, he voted to agree a strong humanitarian response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria was required by the international community. This move, according to what was discussed ahead of the vote, could require military action.

The same year he also voted against requiring conditions to be fulfilled before any military action involving the UK forces in response to the situation in Syria. This included conditions such as a vote of the UN Security Council.

Since 2014, he has always supported UK airstrikes against the IS in Syria.

 

Military Covenant

In 2011, Jeremy Hunt voted against a legally binding Military Covenant.

The Armed Forces Covenant recognises the UK's moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families. 

In 2012, Mr Hunt voted against calling on the Government to strengthen the Military Covenant and against requesting a reassessment of the assumptions on which the Strategic Defence and Security Review was based.

The information concerning votes cast by the two contenders was gathered using TheyWorkForYou.com.