Politics

Tory Leaders Debate: How Did Defence Fare?

It was the pair's last televised debate before one of them is named Prime Minister.

Tory leaders have been going head to head at ITV’s Leaders Debate in Manchester.

With just weeks to go before Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt takes the position as our new Prime Minister, it was their last chance to prove their worth to the nation in a televised debate.

As it stands, Boris Johnson seems to be the favourite amongst MPs and currently sits higher on the leader board after securing more votes for the position.

What do we know so far?

Boris Johnson’s team has told Forces News he has pledged to commit to the current rising defence budget that sits at £39 billion a year.

Mr Johnson also promises to make sure defence receives the funding it needs.

He has recently said he wants to end “unfair prosecutions” of Northern Ireland veterans involved in historic allegations.

On the other hand, Jeremy Hunt says he wants the issue of historic allegations to be dealt with swiftly.

Mr Hunt also says he wants to spend an extra £15bn on defence between now and 2024.

He further wants to cut taxes on firms who hire veterans and enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law.

ITV sling studio Tory leaders Debate Credit BFBS 090719
The televised debate aired on ITV on Tuesday night.

Was defence on the table?

The only direct mention of defence was from Jeremy Hunt’s opening remarks.

Mr Hunt said: "I’m the foreign secretary who will invest in our brilliant Armed Services so we walk tall in the world.”

Reacting to Mr Hunt’s remarks was Rob Wilson, the former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mr Hunt and now one of his supporters.

Mr Wilson said: "Jeremy Hunt puts his money where his mouth is.

"You have to invest in your equipment, your forces and your people properly and Jeremy Hunt is going to do that.

"He is going to put more money into defence and make sure we walk tall in the world."

While Mr Hunt was the only candidate out of the two to address defence, Boris Johnson’s supporters said he was also committed to defence spending.

Councillor Joy Morrissey, who supports Boris Johnson’s campaign said: "He is absolutely the right person to carry us forward

“Boris is committed to protecting defence spending and protecting our troops and protecting our veterans so I think he is absolutely the right person to carry us forward,” Cllr Morrissey continued.

Echoing the councillor's comments was former RAF officer Jason McCartney, a fellow supporter of Mr Johnson.

Mr McCarney said he had “absolute confidence” in Mr Johnson and that he would “look after our Armed Forces and make the big decisions we need”.

The debate was dominated by Brexit with both leaders pledging they would give us the best deal or would ensure we leave.

Another topic of discussion was more funding to the police service, which was highly lead by Mr Johnson and more spending to public schools.

The two candidates just have weeks to go before one of them is given the position of Prime Minister.

After that they will have just under two months to deliver a new deal, or no deal at all and leave the EU on 31 October.