1. ITV Report

Jeremy Hunt stands by statement there are risks in holding election before Brexit is sorted

Jeremy Hunt still believes there are risks in holding an election before Brexit is sorted. Credit: ITV News

Jeremy Hunt has stood by his statement there are risks in holding a General Election before Brexit is done.

The former Foreign Secretary was speaking to Robert Peston and said the party has "to recognise that there are risks in having an election before we've left the European Union".

But he added Prime Minister Boris Johnson had "confounded expectations" by removing the backstop in his Brexit deal, as he feared the insurance policy to ensure there was no hard border in Ireland "would trap us in the EU's custom union".

"The basic principle behind what he [Boris Johnson] has done is to find a deal that recognises that Northern Ireland is different by its history, but it should get the same benefits from Brexit as the rest of the UK," he added.

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Mr Hunt said there had been "unfortunate resignations" at the start of the election campaign, after Cabinet minister Alun Cairns quit over allegations he knew a former aide "sabotaged" a rape trial.

He added he did not "seek to defend" comments made by Jacob Rees-Mogg that it would have been "common sense" to escape the Grenfell Tower fire.

But said: "I think is actually very typical for a General Election, the first few days have been dominated by incidents which we have absolutely no barring on how people vote when it comes to polling day."

The former Cabinet minister instead launched an attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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"The real issue in this election is that we have someone who could possibly become prime minister who does have extremist views," Mr Hunt said.

"Someone like Jeremy Corbyn would decimate our reputation internationally."

He went on to say the NHS was a key issue in the election campaign, but the central issue was the health service needs more resources.

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"Ultimately the only thing that is going to relieve pressure, is more doctors and nurses," Mr Hunt added.

"But it takes time for that money to feed into the extra bodies who are able to relieve the pressure, so I think the pressure is going to be with us for a while in the NHS."

He said it was "absolute nonsense" that Mr Johnson could do a deal with the US, that would force the price of NHS drugs to go up.