Jeremy Hunt jokes about being PM by 2020 at media conference

Jeremy Hunt has joked about being prime minister of the UK by 2020.

The Conservative leadership candidate made the reference while speaking at the Global Conference For Media Freedom in London.

He also announced plans to protect press freedom and said there would be a follow-up event in Canada to check on the progress of the initiative.

He said: “We will have another conference next year hosted by Chrystia Freeland (Canadian minister for foreign affairs) which I obviously hope to attend as prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

The Global Conference for Media Freedom
The Global Conference for Media Freedom

Mr Hunt said that the nation is still coming to terms with the death of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland, and action would be taken to defend the press.

He said: “The UK with other governments are setting up an international task force to help young democracies develop their media freedom.”

He added that the UK would not exempt itself from duties to the press, highlighting the death of Ms McKee as an example of the need to protect journalists.

He added: “We had the murder of Lyra McKee which we are still coming to terms with.”

In the UK, a National Committee will be established for the protection of journalists, with a National Action Plan created to tackle threats to the press.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said in a statement: “With rising disinformation and threats against the media, the UK’s strong and independent press is a beacon of freedom that this Government is committed to supporting and preserving.

The Global Conference for Media Freedom
The Global Conference for Media Freedom

“The Committee will champion journalists’ ability to safely carry out their important roles in society and to continue to hold the powerful to account.

“This is part of our broader commitment to ensuring the future sustainability of high-quality, public interest news.”

Mr Hunt also introduced lawyer Amal Clooney as a Foreign Office special envoy on media freedom.

He told assembled journalists at the Printworks in Surrey Quays: “Any journalists’ colleagues here, if you ever get into trouble I would highly recommend her services if you can afford her fees.”

While introducing BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall, Mr Hunt said of the BBC: “I find their coverage of the arguments I put forward totally infuriating.

“But I’m very proud of what the BBC means around the world.”

He said he would use the BBC as an example of press freedom around the world, adding: “Listen to the Today programme.

“Not, of course, when I’m being interviewed.”