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Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is ready to launch a Tory leadership bid if Boris Johnson is ousted, his allies have revealed.

Mr Hunt – who came second to Mr Johnson in the 2019 contest – is lining up supporters and sounding out potential Cabinet Ministers in anticipation of the Prime Minister losing a confidence vote in the wake of Thursday’s local elections.

The prospect has been greeted with dismay by Cabinet allies of Mr Johnson, one of whom last night described Mr Hunt as ‘Theresa May without the personality’.

Mr Hunt, who backed Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, is understood to have been brazenly courting pro-Brexit MPs by distancing himself from his previous views.

Jeremy Hunt – who came second to Mr Johnson in the 2019 contest – is lining up supporters and sounding out potential Cabinet Ministers

Jeremy Hunt – who came second to Mr Johnson in the 2019 contest – is lining up supporters and sounding out potential Cabinet Ministers

Jeremy Hunt – who came second to Mr Johnson in the 2019 contest – is lining up supporters and sounding out potential Cabinet Ministers

His moves come in anticipation of the Prime Minister (above) losing a confidence vote in the wake of Thursday’s local elections

Chancellor Rishi Sunak had long been tipped as Mr Johnson’s successor. 

But the fall in his political fortunes since the revelations about his wife’s tax status has been seized upon by Mr Hunt’s team, with Mr Sunak’s supporters in the One Nation group of Tory MPs being actively courted. 

A source said: ‘Six weeks ago you would have said it’s a done deal, Rishi’s got it. Not any more.’

Mr Hunt, who was also a long-serving Health Secretary, is expected to brand himself as a ‘safe pair of hands’ after Mr Johnson’s roller-coaster premiership. 

Another supporter said he was ‘Mrs Thatcher’s soulmate’, economically.

A senior Hunt supporter said: ‘He’s definitely running. There’s a significant groundswell of support.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (above) had long been tipped as Mr Johnson’s successor. But the fall in his political fortunes since the revelations about his wife’s tax status has been seized upon by Mr Hunt’s team, with Mr Sunak’s supporters in the One Nation group of Tory MPs being actively courted

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (above) had long been tipped as Mr Johnson’s successor. But the fall in his political fortunes since the revelations about his wife’s tax status has been seized upon by Mr Hunt’s team, with Mr Sunak’s supporters in the One Nation group of Tory MPs being actively courted

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (above) had long been tipped as Mr Johnson’s successor. But the fall in his political fortunes since the revelations about his wife’s tax status has been seized upon by Mr Hunt’s team, with Mr Sunak’s supporters in the One Nation group of Tory MPs being actively courted

The South West Surrey MP has publicly said his ambition to be leader has not ‘completely vanished’ – although supporters insist he would not be the one to directly trigger a leadership challenge.

MPs say he has assembled a team around him, including ex-Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell.

A eurosceptic Tory MP said: ‘He’s going round seeing everyone to test the waters. He says he is pro-Brexit now, that he is not going to reverse it. He’s a nice bloke, but I don’t know what the question is, if “Jeremy Hunt” is the answer.’

Tom Tugendhat, the foreign affairs committee chair, is also said to be planning a leadership bid.

Source: Daily Mail

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