A first-hand account of the final leadership debate

I ventured to an invite-only debate, the last one in fact, between PM hopefuls Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

Up until this point, I had not posted my ballot, as I wanted to see how both candidates fared in-front of a live audience, which was well picked and varied, with members ranging from young conservatives (who took up a good portion of the audience) to journalists and other politicians. A number of key questions were asked such as: if they thought Trump’s remarks about immigrants who should “go back home” were racist.

Although both candidates managed to dodge this one, whilst still condemning the President’s words, other parts of the debate were a lot lighter hearted, such as one asking their opinion on who would win Love Island. I went into the debate expecting it to be a lot fierier than it was. In fact, to my surprise, both gentlemen were extremely respectful, and actually had quite light banter with each other.

A bit of awkwardness did occur when Hunt answered “yes” immediately to the question of if Johnson would be offered a cabinet position if he won, just to be met with Boris very cleverly avoiding yet another question. It must be noted however, that this diplomacy actually helps Boris a lot especially in situations like such, however he was assertive and delivered strong statements regarding the Brexit. Both candidates promised the audience that Britain will and must leave by Halloween of this year, but were grilled heavily by members of Youth Group Blue Beyond about their plans to do so.

Overall, neither candidate came out incredibly stronger than the other, both being well-prepared to answer a broad variety of questions. The Sun’s headline the day after that stated, “Hunt backs Boris” while although amusing, I have to agree.

Hunt agreed to far too much of Boris’ proposals. In my opinion, this doesn’t sound assertive to me. We need a leader for the tumultuous times ahead that the UK faces. It is a shame that Hunt wasn’t questioned about his almost quite random promise to rural areas that he will lift the ban on fox-hunting, as I’m sure this would’ve been interesting to hear.

The debate most certainly helped me pick who I will be voting for to be the next PM. However, whatever happens, it must be noted that the party needs to unite going forward with a strong cabinet who believes in not only Brexit, but a move to solidify Conservative values for everyone in the country. The debate helped me to see once again that the party is a party of meritocracy and the next leader must show clearly that they have the clear abilities not only to negotiate, but bring the party back to being the party for the working class, that wants to deliver Brexit but also improve our NHS, education services and the very foundational pillars the United Kingdom has prided itself on.

With less than one week until the new Prime Minister is crowned, my only hope is that this leads to a breath of fresh air, a new cabinet ready to tackle Brexit and restore the UK back to its rightful place in the world.

by Shradha Badiani

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