William Hague backs Jeremy Hunt in Conservative leadership contest

Former Conservative leader William Hague will back Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership race, saying he is "logically and inescapably drawn to vote" for the Foreign Secretary.

Ballot papers will be issued to Conservative party members from later this week in the contest between Boris Johnson and Mr Hunt.

Mr Hague, who served as leader of the opposition between 1997 and 2001, said both candidates had "great merits", but added that he believed Mr Hunt would make the better Prime Minister.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former Richmond MP said: "Both candidates are committed to a policy that will be formidably hard to implement.

"But one of them has left himself the space in which to do it, even if only a little – an important consideration in a parliament the Tories do not control.

"Whoever wins will benefit from much improved national finances, although I would advise more caution over raiding them in the campaign."

Mr Hague, now a life peer, said that Mr Johnson's pledge for Britain to leave the European Union by October 31 on a "do or die" basis had cost him a vote.

"In doing so, however much I wish him well if he is elected, he has lost my vote,
because 'do and then die' could very easily be the outcome", he wrote.

"Both men have great merits. But asked to weigh who might make the better prime minister, and have the best chance of avoiding calamity over Brexit, I come to a clear conclusion.

"I will mark my ballot for Jeremy Hunt."

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Jeremy Hunt on the campaign trail
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Jeremy Hunt on the campaign trail
The research suggests momentum is going in Mr Hunt’s favour.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt sips a shake during a visit to Chelsmford town centre in Essex.
RETRANSMITTING AMENDING SPELLING OF NAME FROM BETTIE TO BETTY CORRECT CAPTION BELOW Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt with his 99-year-old great aunt Betty, whom he went to see during his visit to Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt takes a selfie with supporters during a visit to Chelsmford town centre in Essex.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt talks with a Chelsea Pensioner during a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London, accompanied by Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron (left) talks to MP Jeremy Hunt and Consultant Mark Pontin, as he visits the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, Surrey.
RETRANSMITTING AMENDING SPELLING OF NAME FROM BETTIE TO BETTY CORRECT CAPTION BELOW Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt with his 99-year-old great aunt Betty, whom he went to see during his visit to Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt speaks to people during his visit to Aberdeen beach in Aberdeenshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt during his visit to Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt rolling a naan bread during a visit to Imran's Balti Restaurant in Birmingham ahead of the first Tory party hustings.
File photo dated 24/08/12 of the then Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt and the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who will go head to head in the Conservative party leadership race.
CARLISLE, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: A helicopter with Conservative leadership candidate Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on board leaves following a Conservative Party leadership hustings event at Carlisle Racecourse on June 29, 2019 in Carlisle, England. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are the final two MPs left in the contest to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party. The winner will be announced on July 23rd 2019 and will also take up the post of Prime Minister of the UK and Northern Ireland. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt gave their takes on what they would do if handed the keys to Downing Street in the latest hustings in the South West.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: Conservative leadership candidate and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives at BBC Broadcasting House on June 30, 2019 in London, England.(Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Jeremy Hunt talks onstage at Manchester Central Convention Complex on June 29, 2019 in Manchester, England. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are the final two MPs left in the contest to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party. The winner will be announced on July 23rd 2019 and will also take up the post of Prime Minister of the UK and Northern Ireland. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Conservative MP and leadership contender Jeremy Hunt takes part in a Conservative Party Hustings event in Manchester, north west England on June 29, 2019. - Britain's leadership contest is taking the two contenders on a month-long nationwide tour where they will each attempt to reach out to grassroots Conservatives in their bid to become prime minister. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Conservative MP and leadership contender Jeremy Hunt takes part in a Conservative Party Hustings event in Manchester, north west England on June 29, 2019. - Britain's leadership contest is taking the two contenders on a month-long nationwide tour where they will each attempt to reach out to grassroots Conservatives in their bid to become prime minister. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Conservative MP and leadership contender Jeremy Hunt takes part in a Conservative Party Hustings event in Manchester, north west England on June 29, 2019. - Britain's leadership contest is taking the two contenders on a month-long nationwide tour where they will each attempt to reach out to grassroots Conservatives in their bid to become prime minister. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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