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Eddie Hughes: Allow our doctors to decide who needs hospital treatment

Does the NHS sometimes waste money reassuring patients unnecessarily?

The NHS can learn much from its senior doctors, but only if they have their authority returned in respect of patient treatment. This is something that has been lost within the public service since the introduction of various changes in consultants’ working practices over the past 15 years or so.

We are failing to use the knowledge and expertise of some of our country’s most senior clinicians. These senior doctors have demonstrated that they are key to reducing unnecessary referrals to secondary care, and to bringing some order to the increase in unnecessary investigation and treatment of our population and subsequent costs to the taxpayer.

I have been told that a doctor’s career has three phases: knowing what to do, knowing when to do it and, most importantly, when NOT to do it. The latter phase only comes with expertise and experience which is normally found in the very doctors who are now retiring early.

Within the NHS many patients are being unnecessarily ‘over investigated’ and ‘over-treated’ – they are called VOMITs – Victims of Medical Investigation and Treatment. All of this is at a cost to those patients who really need to be treated – they must wait longer as a result. In addition, there is the cost to the public purse and to areas of healthcare that desperately need the money that is being poured into inefficient hospitals that constantly tie their clinical teams in red tape and administration. (Although I accept that this may partly be because of the over-regulation of health by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) and NHS England.)

Nearly all commissioning groups in the UK have exceeded their budgets, and much of that additional expenditure is on investigations or treatments within hospitals, – when the outcome is not always good value for the patient or for the taxpayer. In fact, I understand most hospitals have no idea what their clinical outcomes are. We are paying for this and we have no idea if we are getting value for money. Something has to change.

Many patients are being referred to hospital because of the fear of a doctor ‘missing’ something which then results in patient harm and can damage the doctor’s reputation and career. Once referred to a hospital the patients are often seen by fully trained but relatively inexperienced doctors who will tend to admit and investigate a patient rather than reassure them and allow them home. Once patients, particularly the elderly, are in hospital it is difficult to get them home. This is bad for patients, doctors, nurses and bad for the NHS as a whole.

In my view, what is needed is a system to allow our most experienced doctors to knowledgeably control referrals and patient demand. Doing so will reduce hospitals’ workloads and allow them to better care for the patients who do need to be in a hospital bed. Whilst GPs have done a great job in reducing some referrals, if we continue to allow people to go to hospital without any input from senior experts before they enter the hospital, then nothing will change.

The problem is the senior consultants are employed by the hospitals. They are therefore conflicted. If they advise someone not to come to hospital, the hospital loses income and the consultant could have their income reduced. Hospitals are expensive places, filled with ambitious people who want to make a name for themselves or their departments. They will not want to promote a system that reduces their income.

We know from the Get It Right First Time projects ( GIRFT) run by the NHS that the key is to get the senior doctors involved BEFORE the patient reaches hospital, but how do we do it when the consultants are employed by the very organisations that will lose out by the advice they give?

Well it is simple: our commissioners need to get advice from organisations that have good governance systems, to keep patients safe, but also ones that understand the need to reduce expenditure for the benefit of the whole NHS. This cannot be done by traditional management consultants, who are frequently asked for advice by NHS managers. It has to be done by independent medical and surgical consultants with years of front-line experience and an understanding of when NOT to do things.

It is time we asked the professionals for help, not their royal colleges, not their unions (BMA) or their specialty associations, but organisations that have experience of the commercial world, as well as the clinical understanding of healthcare. With their help, perhaps we can help our NHS cope with the ever-rising demands from our population, and rebalance healthcare more towards outcomes.

The key is getting the frontline, senior expert consultants to help, not to disenfranchise them as we are currently doing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tom Tugendhat: The last two men left standing in this contest must resist the temptation to slug it out

Tom Tugendhat is Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

In a contest which has been framed around personality, it is striking how many ideas have been generated by the Conservative leadership contest.  Each of the ten candidates original candidates had something to say. Each has championed a new vision of Britain, and each has given Conservatives plenty to think about.

It’s also showcased some good news about how the Conservative Party is changing. Which other party in any other country could boast a contest that included a television presenter, two newspaper columnists, an entrepreneur, an old-school adventurer, a second generation Muslim immigrant, or the son of a Jewish refugee? Not as tokens, but each arguing on merit their own cause as an advocate of an idea.

I backed Michael Gove’s determination to do everything he can to strengthen our United Kingdom and make this country a cleaner, greener place to live. But there are parts from other campaigns that were inspiring. I love Esther McVey’s promoting of Blue Collar Conservatism that has underpinned the Conservative movement for generations and Dominic Raab’s focus on home-ownership and cutting taxes for the lowest-paid.

Andrea Leadsom’s defence of EU citizens who live in the UK and the need to give them (my wife included) certainty about their future status is a proposal I completely back and Matt Hancock’s continued emphasis on mastering cutting-edge digital technologies as the key to our country’s future prosperity is one I have been pushing for since I discovered that parts of Kent are less well connected than Kabul or Khartoum.

At a time when faith in politicians is waning, Rory Stewart showed us just how we can rebuild trust not only through outreach but by talking about the real issues that change people’s lives.

And Boris Johnson? What isn’t there to say about him? He has picked up school places and tech infrastructure, taxes and the living wage and, closest to my heart in our in a time of educational separation – apprenticeships. That, along with his ability to animate the faithful make his contribution so powerful.

But he’s not alone. No one could be unmoved by Sajid Javid’s back story and determination. His pledge to recruit 20,000 more police is a welcome return to the values many expect of us – protecting those most in need. And as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve long admired Jeremy Hunt’s ability to master the widest of briefs and understand the details that drive change in our world. His commitment to fund our armed forces and diplomacy properly is also hugely welcome.

The range of these ideas gives me great hope for the future. Partly because they confound the lazy allegation that we have run out of them. Partly because none of them need be mutually exclusive. And partly because Brexit is the biggest shift in UK policy in generations with massive implications for everything from the NHS to housing policy: there is a massive opportunity for creative thinking.

While there is no shortage of ideas, there has been a shortage of leadership. We need a Prime Minister now who will take us through Brexit and confront the challenges beyond. The 2016 referendum, and the three years since our vote to leave, have revealed many profound political problems – common to many other countries – that we now have both an opportunity and a duty to address.

The poorest have felt the impact of the financial crisis hardest, while the benefits of our economic growth have been imperceptible to too many: especially those who do not live or work in our big cities. We have to build beautiful new housing that reflects the way we live today. We need to ensure that our education system is focused on endowing our young people with the skills that translate into career security in a world which has already been transformed by internet connectivity and will be further by automation and AI. Finally, everything we do must be sustainable. The policies we pursue today must not imperil our children’s future.

The temptation for the last two men left standing in this contest will be to slug it out. There is a real danger that the race becomes acrimonious and divisive.  We are at our best as a country when we are unified. I know from my time chairing the committee that has scrutinised both Foreign Secretaries that each man is above this.

Let us spend the next week scrutinising these two potential leaders. Then let’s unite behind whoever wins to deliver Brexit and a compelling vision of the future for this great country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Woman Sues Hospital: If She’d Known Her 4-Year-Old Had Down Syndrome, She Would’ve Aborted Him

Westlake Legal Group AP_18038600360324-1-620x339 Woman Sues Hospital: If She’d Known Her 4-Year-Old Had Down Syndrome, She Would’ve Aborted Him United Kingdom Uncategorized UK royal berkshire hospital NHS National Right To Life National Health Service michael de navarro law Judicial innocence Front Page Stories Featured Story dyta mordel Down Syndrome Culture children carol tobias Allow Media Exception aleksander Abortion

This September 2017 undated photo provided by the Warren family via Gerber shows 14-month-old Lucas Warren of Dalton, Ga. Lucas’ contagious smile won over executives at Gerber baby food who have made him their “spokesbaby” this year. Lucas is Gerber’s first spokesbaby with Down syndrome in the company’s 91-year history. (Courtesy Warren family/Gerber via AP)



A woman in the UK is suing a hospital for failing to screen her unborn son for Down Syndrome.

Had she known he had the condition, the lawsuit claims, she would’ve had an abortion.

As reported by the Mirror, Edyta Mordel is attempting to hold the National Health Service accountable for the live birth of her son to the tune of £200,000.

Per the suit, the “wrongful birth…increased financial costs of caring for her son and for the impact on her own ability to work.”

4-year-old Aleksander was born in January of 2015 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Hospital records reveal Edyta was “very angry and upset” upon being made aware of the baby’s condition.

According to her claim, doctors failed to administer testing which would’ve detected DS, despite the fact that she insisted. Purportedly, she even noted the need for such examination during her first meeting with a midwife.

Edyta believed the evaluation was performed at her 12-week appointment, though medical documentation speaks to the contrary.

As relayed by the Daily Mail, she appealed to London’s High Court thusly:

“I knew from the start I would agree on the Down’s syndrome screening, and I would not make any other decision. I was always sure about the decision, and I always wanted it. I spoke with the midwife about Down Syndrome screening. I had informed myself. I watched a lot of videos and read about screening.”

Her attorney insists both she and her partner — Aleksander’s father — would’ve “terminated the pregnancy.”

However, legal representatives for NHS contend that she declined the test and later regretted it.

More, from lawyer Michael de Navarro QC:

“Not only did her copy of the handheld notes contain the scan report saying that Down’s screening had been declined, but she must have realized that she had never had the result of screening which she had been told to expect.”

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias had something to say about the situation — to The Daily Caller:

“If a mother does not want to care for her precious little one, we would encourage her to let a loving family adopt and raise him, helping him to reach his full potential. And, no, a hospital should not be sued for bringing this innocent little one into the world.”

In terms of the Western culture at large, Edyta’s disposition — though shocking — isn’t such an outlier: Earlier in the year, New York approved the murder of infants mere seconds before they’re born (here); and Virginia’s governor is cool with them being murdered after birth (here).

But undoubtedly the most apt response to this story is a video shared by Ashton Kutcher in January.

Don’t miss its incredible power:

This man gave powerful speech on Down Syndrome

Everyone's life is valuable.

Posted by Ashton Kutcher on Wednesday, January 16, 2019



Relevant RedState links in this article: herehere, and here.

See 3 more pieces from me:

New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers On How To Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents

A Pastor & His Church Are Expelled For Embracing Gay Marriage – Two Female Worship Team Members Got Hitched

12-Year-Old ‘Drag Kid’ Desmond Is Amazing’s Mom Blasts A ‘Convicted Pedophile’ For Sexualizing Her Son

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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The post Woman Sues Hospital: If She’d Known Her 4-Year-Old Had Down Syndrome, She Would’ve Aborted Him appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group AP_18038600360324-1-300x164 Woman Sues Hospital: If She’d Known Her 4-Year-Old Had Down Syndrome, She Would’ve Aborted Him United Kingdom Uncategorized UK royal berkshire hospital NHS National Right To Life National Health Service michael de navarro law Judicial innocence Front Page Stories Featured Story dyta mordel Down Syndrome Culture children carol tobias Allow Media Exception aleksander Abortion   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hunt bends every sinew to make this contest a two-horse race

“Wotcha!” The Foreign Secretary’s greeting yesterday morning was genial, but strangely reminiscent of The Sun’s famous “Gotcha” headline during the Falklands War.

We were hurrying along on the 8.24 from Waterloo to Alton, in Hampshire, and Jeremy Hunt, last encountered in the splendour of his official residence at Carlton Gardens, approached me from behind, and took me by surprise.

He followed up his one word greeting with an extremely firm handshake.

“Is this how British diplomacy is nowadays conducted?” I found myself inquiring. “At least you’re wearing a tie.”

“You aren’t,” he replied with a smile: an accurate enough observation.

This is not actually how British diplomacy is conducted. It is how Hunt’s campaign is conducted.

As the underdog, the man expected to lose to Boris Johnson, he has decided, understandably enough, that he must become as energetic and punchy as possible, while avoiding anything which could be construed as a low blow.

One of his advisers said that since the leadership contest has narrowed into a two-horse race, he has given 68 interviews to various news organisations, and Hunt himself repeated his view that “Boris should have had the courage to do head-to-head TV debates”.

He was on his way to address a gathering of at least 150 Conservative members, some of them holding HAS TO BE HUNT placards, gathered on the lawn at Chawton House, a beautiful manor house built in the 1580s and well known to Jane Austen, for it belonged to her brother, who provided a small house within easy walking distance for his two sisters and their mother.

Hunt decided that in order to address this throng, he would climb on to a spindly chair which had been carried out of the house.

“I’m just going to take the biggest risk of the campaign so far,” he said, placed a well-polished shoe on the red plush seat of the chair, and raised himself aloft.

The chair sank slightly into the lawn, but did not tip over. Hunt’s sense of balance was perfect. So was the weather, a peerless English summer day, and so was the surrounding park, the church, a hundred yards away, standing amid trees.

The candidate remarked that Hampshire “is the most beautiful county”, something he realised while flying over it in a helicopter as he returned to London from one of the hustings; but, he added with a smile, “painful for a Surrey boy to say”.

He observed that he would be the first entrepreneur to become Prime Minister, and asked how many people in the crowd had set up their own business.

An impressive number of hands went up, much more than a sprinkling. Hunt remarked later in conversation that this has been the case with every Conservative audience he has addressed during this campaign.

He declared that he wants to make Britain “the world’s next Silicon Valley”. He pointed out that he is “the son of a naval officer”, and remarked that he would be “the first Prime Minister who’s ever been responsible for the NHS”.

“I promise you,” he said, “that I will not take you into a general election until I have got more young people voting Conservative.”

That produced the first pronounced applause during his speech, from an audience which was not especially young.

He took questions. One of the first was about the maltreatment of Switzerland by the European Union.

“When I see the bullying of countries like Switzerland,” Hunt said, “that for me is the best possible reason to leave the EU.”

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of Baghdad, hailed Hunt as “one of the only political leaders who has spoken about the crisis facing Christians in the Middle East.”

Hunt replied, “I don’t go to church every Sunday, but I try to,” and remarked that when he did, he did not have to “worry my life might be in danger”.

Another question, less friendly: “Your image in the country is a bit more of a grey man, a bit more Iain Duncan Smith, quiet man, John Major.”

Hunt in the course of his reply made another “first ever” claim: “I would be the first Prime Minister who can dance the Brazilian dance the Lambada.”

But, he added a bit lamely, he is “not planning to do any public demonstrations of it”.

There, perhaps, we see the weakness of Hunt. If Johnson could dance the Lambada, or thought he could dance it, he would find some opportunity to strut his stuff, the resulting video clip would go viral, Polly Toynbee would assure us this is going to turn off young people all over the country, but somehow he would cheer most people up, and would gain rather than lose from attempting something no sane Englishman would do.

Hunt cannot behave like that, and is admired for not being like that by those Tories who find Johnson embarrassing.

Elizabeth Cartwright, former Leader of East Hampshire District Council, said she had supported Hunt “from the beginning”, though “I toyed with Rory Stewart”.

Her husband suggested she had also toyed with Michael Gove, but she denied this.

She is implacably hostile to Johnson: “He’s a buffoon. He comes across as a buffoon. He embarrasses me.”

Hunt has become the anti-buffoon candidate. “I like serious people,” another woman who admires him said.

The Hampshire Tories received Hunt with well-mannered applause, like the applause one hears at Wimbledon. His reception was friendly rather than ecstatic. He is the respectable candidate.

On the train journey back to Waterloo, Chris Hope of The Daily Telegraph recorded an edition of Chopper’s Brexit Podcast with Hunt.

“I don’t know if you know this, Chris,” Hunt said with a smile, “but I actually set up a business.”

So Hunt can do self-deprecation. He is an admirably English candidate, a sensitive and prudent man who can be relied on to behave like an officer and a gentleman, and who fortifies himself with swigs from a bottle of Evian water.

“Boris is a great character and I don’t want to say anything against Boris,” he said.

He is in favour of fox-hunting, wants a Commons vote if there is any prospect of success, and would vote for it, but “I don’t hunt myself. It’s not particularly my thing. But I think it’s part of the countryside.”

He added, in a wry reference to his name, that perhaps one of his ancestors hunted.

When ConHome asked Hunt if his view of Boris “has improved or worsened as the campaign has continued”, he replied:  “It hasn’t changed, actually, because the great thing about Boris is we all feel we know him.”

ConHome: “I think there’s something imponderable about Boris, actually.”

Hunt: “There is, but I’ve known him, I’ve worked very closely with him when he was Mayor of London and I was Culture Secretary. I’m probably more the unknown quantity than Boris in this campaign.”

Hunt is certainly less known to the general public than Johnson, but is, in principle, more knowable. He is a fine representative of his class, public-spirited, energetic, reliable, intelligent, a pleasure to deal with.

He is not as exciting or original as his rival, but not all Conservatives want a Prime Minister who is exciting or original. As he speeds round the country, he is bending every sinew to make this a two-horse race. We shall know soon enough whether he has succeeded.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Damian Green: Greater funding for social care requires a frank discussion with voters about priorities

Damian Green is MP for Ashford, and is a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Whoever the new Prime Minister is (full disclosure: I’m a Boris Johnson supporter), they will need a lively domestic agenda to complement the final throes of this stage of Brexit. Which will mean tackling some of the burning injustices which were identified but not addressed by the outgoing administration. The grasping of social care must be an urgent priority.

For many years social care and its funding has been one of the most difficult subjects in British politics. In 2010, the Labour proposals were condemned by Conservatives as a Death Tax, and Labour were out. What goes around comes around, and in 2017 our own ideas, more generous than the existing system, were badged the Dementia Tax, and dreams of a large majority disappeared overnight.

It is one of the most personal issues possible, as many individuals suddenly find themselves having to provide a decent quality of life to a loved one with no proper guidance about how to do it, and what their entitlements are.

At the same time it is financially demanding. Essentially, the vast majority of people agree that we need to spend more on social care. Simultaneously, they are insistent that they should not themselves pay any extra tax. We need a serious national conversation about this (not staring in mid-campaign) and must face up to some unpalatable truths.

The current social care system is unsustainable not just financially but politically. It is too often opaque to those trying to understand it, with no apparent logic to the conditions which receive free NHS treatment, and those which do not. It is also apparently unfair in not rewarding a lifetime of prudence. Those who have saved feel that their savings will simply disappear, while those who have not saved receive the same level of care.

Less well-known is the fact that funding social care out of council tax means that local authorities are reluctant to allow too many care homes to be built. An ageing population means that already more than two fifths of council spending goes on social care. This figure will only increase over the years, so councils are fearful that all their other services will be swamped by the rising demands of the social care system.

The failures in social care put unnecessary extra pressure on the NHS. Indeed, the new, generous funding plan for the NHS depends on the assumption that we develop a social care system which keeps people out of hospital longer and discharges them in a smooth and timely fashion.

I recently published a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies “Fixing the Care Crisis” which dealt specifically with the problem of care for older people. There is at least as big a problem for working age people who need care, but let’s deal with one problem at a time.

A new system will need to meet four objectives. It will need to provide enough money to cope with an ageing population. It will need to be fair across generations and between individuals, ensuring that no one has to sell their own home, and ending the “dementia lottery”. It must lead to an increase in the supply of care beds and retirement housing. And ideally it should secure cross-party consensus.

We should look as a model to the pension system, where the basic State Pension has been increased significantly, while at the same time most people save additionally through their working years to provide comfort and security in old age. Auto-enrolment has been a great cross-party success story, encouraging millions more to save towards extra security in old age. The benefits will not come for decades, but they will be huge when they arrive.

Similarly, just as the basic State Pension has been improved in recent years I believe we should offer a Universal Care Entitlement, offering a better level of care both for homecare and residential care. For those who need residential care this would cover the core residential costs. Needs would be assessed locally but the money would come from central Government. This would take away the pressures on local councils.

Will this involve extra money? Of course it will. My estimate in the CPS paper is that providing decent care in this way would involve an extra £2.5 billion extra a year immediately, with increasing amounts as the demographics change over the years. Others put the figure higher. This is serious money, but not a big problem for the Treasury to find to improve a vital service. Any suggestions for an increase in tax or National Insurance will be controversial, as I have found, but politicians need to be honest about this. If the public want extra spending, the Government will have to raise more money to pay for it.

In addition, we need to find an acceptable way to allow those with the capacity to improve their own provision to do so. This would come through a Care Supplement, a new form of insurance designed specifically to fund more extensive care costs in old age.

This is analogous to the private pension system, which sits alongside the state system. It would allow people to buy insurance at the level they can afford to provide peace of mind. It would not be compulsory, (as pension auto-enrolment is not compulsory) so could not be stigmatised as a Death Tax or Dementia Tax. People could save for it over many years or make a one-off payment (possibly using equity release) at a suitable time in their lives.

These ideas would take the burden of social care funding away from local authorities, and even more importantly offer certainty and security to the increasing numbers who will need social care in old age. No one would have to sell their house and see their inheritance disappear. Everyone would have the chance of receiving better care. Fewer people would be left unnecessarily in hospital beds as they wait for social care to be available.

None of this is easy and it will take political courage. But it absolutely necessary if we are to provide peace of mind and security to frail elderly people who richly deserve it.

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Anna Firth: Local Government not central Government that has the power and the tools to combat loneliness

Cllr Anna Firth, Chairman of Sevenoaks Conservative Association and the Lead Member for Loneliness on Sevenoaks District Council

Last week’s new #Let’sTalkLoneliness campaign, launched by the Loneliness Minister, Mims Davies MP, and inspired by the third anniversary of Jo Cox’s death, was a very welcome step in the right direction. Central government has a vital role to play in raising awareness and tackling the stigma still attached to loneliness and isolation. The power to prevent it, however, remains firmly in the hands of local government, since the only long-term, sustainable way to address chronic loneliness is to go “upstream” and build more caring, connected communities by design. Only local councils, as the planning authorities, have the power to ensure that all new developments are planned with good mental health and well-being in mind from day one.

It is absolutely shocking that according to the British Red Cross, nearly a sixth of all Britons – nine million people – are chronically lonely and that this is expected to rise by nearly 50 per cent over the next decade. Loneliness also knows no age limits; research shows that 1 in 10 young teens feel lonely, which has a huge impact on their well-being.

Everyone will feel lonely at some point in their lives, but chronic loneliness occurs when, for whatever reason, the individual cannot take steps to address it. At that point, it becomes a serious health issue, as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or obesity, and it shortens lives. As John Steinbeck famously wrote: “a sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker than a germ”.

It also represents a health inequality, since it is experienced far more by some groups then others. Those living or working alone are particularly at risk. As are the elderly, who often lack the mobility and support structures to overcome it.

Up to 85 per cent of young, disabled adults – 18 to 34 year olds – feel lonely.

In rural districts like Sevenoaks, the risk of loneliness is particularly acute due to poor public transport, an ageing population, and pockets of rural and urban deprivation. For example, St Mary’s ward in the town of Swanley falls within the 10% most deprived wards in Kent and the South East. Another vulnerable and increasing group is children living in low-income, rural households. 12 per cent of children under 16 are living in low-income families in Sevenoaks district, where rural deprivation is deemed more isolating than urban poverty. This group is set to increase by 17 per cent over the next 20 years.

The impact of this loneliness epidemic on our already over-stretched NHS is already immense. Lonely people are 3.4 times more likely to suffer depression, 3.5 times more likely to need residential care, and 1.6 times more likely to end up in A&E. Three out of four GPs report seeing between 1 and 5 people a day mainly because they are lonely.

However, with the number of over 85s forecast to rise across Kent by a whopping 97.8% over the next 17 years, elderly people opting to remain in their own homes, coupled with a social care system already in crisis, we have a serious public health storm in the making.

Like many councils up and down the country, Sevenoaks District Council is working hard to tackle the symptoms of loneliness, working in partnership with charities and the voluntary sector. Our Council-led Community Grants Scheme delivers targeted support to schemes supporting social inclusion from youth clubs, community transport; wellbeing walking groups, befriending; pop-up cafés, and access to leisure and open spaces.

Sevenoaks is also one of a number of district councils using public health funding to pay for advisors working in GP surgeries to help tackle the non-medical reasons why people visit their doctor, such as loneliness due to bereavement, or depression caused by debt, or unsuitable housing. Going forward, social prescribing needs to be front and centre of primary care. Sevenoaks District Council also supports a yearly internet safety scheme in primary schools (“the Digital Sunset Challenge”) combating youth loneliness due to overuse of social media, particularly at night, as well as offering a falls prevention home adaptions service to both reduce and prevent hospital admissions.

The role of local government, as acknowledged in the new Health and Social Care Green Paper, in tackling loneliness and isolation is plainly crucial. First and foremost, however, communities need to be more caring and connected by design. High quality, purpose build “dementia friendly” retirement villages and towns, good quality community spaces, investing in community transport, encouraging the elderly to take part in local assemblies, suitably adapted homes, care homes that admit pets, and a clear, local connection for the allocation of affordable housing – these are all things that, properly funded, local government can do to create better connected communities, especially for the elderly.

The good news is that there is already a growing body of evidence demonstrating the clear savings to local health and social care services as a result of loneliness investment. Living Well Cornwall, initiated by Age UK and the NHS Kernow CCG, has shown a 41% reduction in the cost of hospital admissions, while Gloucestershire village and community agents has resulted in savings to health and social care services of a £1.3 million between 2012-2014.

However, we also need to consider the role of families. According to a UK Government survey, in 2017, the UK was the loneliest country in Europe. France, Spain and Italy spend far less on social care, yet they don’t have a social care crisis. Why? France, Spain and Italy they have more preserved family structures. Many older people still live close to or with their sons or daughters. A Conservative government should not be shy at championing the role of the family to help alleviate chronic loneliness and also go a long way to solving the adult social care crisis. Tax breaks, coupled with an extension of permitted development rights for anyone wishing to build a granny annexe or add an room in the roof or in the basement in order to care for a relative or loved one, needs to be considered. Temporary or mobile garden granny lodges should also be encouraged.

In the meantime, we will only truly tackle chronic loneliness in our communities by rediscovering the art of caring for one another. A smile, a wave, pausing to ask someone how they are, picking up the phone rather than messaging – all are crucial. Such actions could change an electronic, transactional conversation into a friendly moment that could be the only human, social contact that a person has had all day, possibly all week. In short, simple, everyday actions really do help.


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The BMA seems to have forgotten what the N in NHS stands for

What is going on at the British Medical Association? The trade union for doctors held its conference in Belfast this week, at which it passed a motion opposing the principle of charging visitors from overseas for using some of the services of the NHS.

Such charges were described by attendees as “a fundamentally racist endeavour”,  an “oppressive regime” and “racial profiling”. Doctors who warned of the obvious consequences of a global free-for-all on the NHS’s budget were reportedly booed by their colleagues.

This is completely unhinged. The NHS has limited resources with which to treat the increasingly expensive and complex health needs of this country. The BMA itself tells us all the time that this is difficult to do on the current budget.

“If the government seriously wants to ensure patient safety it must fund the NHS properly – we haven’t the money for enough staff, beds, and facilities,” said the Chairman of the BMA Council at the opening of this very conference. His audience sat there and applauded his speech, then went on to vote for a motion that would put further strain on the budget which he just said is over-stretched.

There is a huge clue to the responsibilities of the NHS concealed within its name. It is a national health service.

Declaring that to be “fundamentally racist” is ludicrous. Aside from the inherent racism of assuming its UK-resident patients to all be of one race, or assuming foreign visitors must be of a different race, the BMA appears to be indulging in a fantasy choice here.

The options available to us are not: 1) be really racist by asking foreign visitors to pay towards the cost of some NHS treatment, or 2) be really nice and treat the whole world on the NHS budget. They are 1) collapse the NHS by deciding it would be racist to pay attention to what it can afford, or 2) deal with the realities of running a service by fulfilling its stated purpose for the country within the available resources. For a doctors’ union to act as if the health service is a magical beast which can fulfil any wishes they might come up with is strikingly irresponsible.

It will also baffle most of the NHS-using and NHS-funding public. They have a lot of time for the health service, and for the doctors and other staff who work within it. They tend to side with them in any given dispute with politicians, and to believe that the BMA has the best interests of the NHS and its users at heart. But a row like this runs completely contrary to that assumption – and clashes directly with the more usual message from the union that the NHS is over-stretched and hasn’t got enough money to treat this country’s ageing and growing population.

There is already rationing of treatments for the residents and citizens who are eligible for treatment. That’s inherent to a health system like ours – particular drugs and treatments are not authorised by NICE as being sufficiently cost-effective; trusts make choices about their priorities, such as how many IVF rounds are available in their area or which specialist functions they will fund; individual patients are treated differently according to an assessment of their condition, such as the refusal of certain treatments to people over a certain weight. It’s often controversial, it’s always difficult, but people do generally understand that such rationed limits are in place for a simple reason: that even the NHS has limits to what it can provide, even if it would like to do more.

The limit on who is eligible for treatment is exactly the same kind of limit. And its reason is even more clear to the public: this is what the NHS does, it is inherent to its national mission, and without sticking to that mission then it will have to ration what it provides to each patient even further, or fall apart completely.

Calls by the BMA conference to remove that limit will come across as frankly weird or even outrageous to most people. It’s an act of pure wokeness which betrays that some of those active in the union seem not to think that it’s “our NHS”, as we are so often told, but in fact it’s their NHS, a playground in which to act out their performance of their political virtue, regardless of the cost to patients, taxpayers or the health service itself.

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Benedict Rogers: Character, values and dignity. Why I am voting for Hunt.

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

As a former journalist, a human rights campaigner and a Christian, there are obvious reasons why I like Jeremy Hunt. As Foreign Secretary he has done more in a year than any of his predecessors combined to champion human rights – and in particular press freedom and freedom of religion or belief, two foundational freedoms that underpin any civilized democratic society.

Hunt has also done more to speak out against crimes against humanity in Burma, for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and peace in Yemen than his predecessors. His decision not just to mandate the Bishop of Truro to conduct an inquiry into the persecution of Christians but to write, every day throughout Lent, to a persecuted Christian, speaks volumes about his values.

So too did his decision, on his first visit to Beijing, to meet the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers. And his statements on Hong Kong, a city I lived in for the first five years of my working life and to which I was denied entry on the orders of Beijing 18 months ago, have been far more robust than his predecessors. Has he done enough? No, of course not: no activist would say enough had been done. But has he shone, as a Foreign Secretary who prioritises human rights? Definitely.

But of course, one doesn’t vote solely on these issues. The challenges facing our party and our country are wide-ranging. Brexit is the most immediate and most obvious. But there are pressures on our public services, threats to our security, challenges to our economy and questions about our standing in the world. And the answer to all of these major questions is clear: Hunt.

Of the original 11 candidates, there were only ever four whom I seriously considered – Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt. Rarely have I had such a difficult choice. Rarely have I been such a floating voter.

I didn’t declare my support until last Thursday, when Javid was knocked out, for the simple reason that whichever one of my four favourites made it into the final two would have won my support. It was only when Javid was eliminated that I decided, when it came down to the final three, to declare my support for Hunt. Once I made the decision, the reasons crystalised. It comes down to three factors: character, values and dignity.

I have not really met Hunt. The only time we have encountered each other was just before Christmas last year. To my surprise, I received an invitation to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss the persecution of Christians – prior to his announcement of a review. Around the table were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Catholic bishop representing Cardinal Nichols, the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos, the chief executives of three charities, and survivors of persecution.

I was impressed by Hunt’s personal engagement with the issue. It was obvious by the fact that he allowed people to speak for far longer than they should have done, and asked insightful questions, that he really cared.

While we had never met before, when he called me to speak he addressed me by my first name, and as he left he said: “It’s great to finally meet you.” There’s no reason, in the great scheme of things, why he should know who I am, but he did and that shows an impressive mastery of detail and personal focus.

I first became aware of Hunt about 13 years ago. A colleague of mine was his constituent. My colleague is a living saint – the epitome of charity, compassion, justice and Christian faith. But he is definitely not a Tory – he is firmly on the Left. Yet he told me early on that he had become a fan of his local MP – Hunt – who, he said, was remarkably responsive, compassionate and interested in human rights. My colleague then brought a Burmese friend, the daughter of a political prisoner, to see Hunt.

I am inspired by Hunt’s emphasis on turbo-charging the economy, deploying his experience as an entrepreneur to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world’s most dynamic economy. A man who has made millions from a successful business, and known the hard grind of business failure, is more likely to be able to take us forward as a global enterprise than one who has never run anything except some precarious newspaper columns.

One handicap sometimes held up is Hunt’s conflict with doctors. But if you look at his record as Health Secretary in full, it is this: he stood up to vested interests, expanded NHS delivery, won battles for further funding and championed the NHS – all qualities we want in a Prime Minister.

Brexit must be delivered, and made not just to work but to succeed. For that to happen all of us, whatever side we were on three years ago, must come together. That means we don’t need a ‘Brexiteer’ leader, we need a unifier, a leader who is not marked by labels but by their ability to implement the referendum result. We need a skilled and experienced negotiator. That man is Hunt.

If Britain is to walk tall in the world post-Brexit, it needs a leader respected by his counterparts as a statesman, taken seriously and not regarded as a subject of mirth. And we need a man who is internationalist and outward-looking. Hunt is clearly that man. Just read his speech on building an “invisible chain” of democracies.

My mother used to live in Japan, and speaks Japanese. When I showed her the video of Mr Hunt delivering a speech in fluent Japanese with no notes she was impressed. To have a Prime Minister who can speak several languages fluently walking the world stage would help turbo-charge Global Britain.

I joined the Conservative Party at the precocious age of 13. In 2005, I stood for Parliament. I have been a Conservative for over 30 years, and I retain hope. In times of victory and wilderness, I have never doubted the Conservative dream and Conservative values. In ups and downs, in government and opposition, I have stuck with three things I hold dear: a Great Britain, a Global Britain and a compassionate conservatism. It is clear to me that it is Hunt who will deliver all three.

I have always championed the underdog – minorities in Burma and Indonesia, prisoners in North Korea, dissidents in China and Hong Kong. So once again, I am with the underdog, and I believe he can win. As the American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side … Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.”

Join me in backing Jeremy Hunt.

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Britain’s NHS Is Trying to Force a Mentally Ill Woman to Abort Her 22-Week Baby for Her ‘Own Good’

Westlake Legal Group 20-week_fetus Britain’s NHS Is Trying to Force a Mentally Ill Woman to Abort Her 22-Week Baby for Her ‘Own Good’ United Kingdom religious grounds prolife Nigerian NHS mentally ill woman Igbo Front Page Stories Forced Abortion Featured Story catholic Abortion

While the fight for life has made major gains here in the United States, in other parts of the West, “free” citizens face being forced into abortions by the state for their own “health”.

In the U.K., doctors on behalf of the National Healthcare Service (NHS) have petitioned a judge (Mrs. Justice Lieven) to give them permission to perform an abortion on a young mentally ill woman.

The woman (her name has been withheld for legal reasons) is in her 20’s and is 22 weeks pregnant. Specialists claim she has a ‘moderately severe’ learning disorder and a ‘mood disorder’, saying she would not have the mental capacity to recover properly from giving birth.

The justification for forced abortion took an even creepier turn with NHS lawyers claiming that not only would it be difficult for the woman to recover physically but it would be harder on her mental state to experience separation from her baby than it would to simply terminate the life. From the Daily Mail:

Barrister Fiona Paterson, who is leading the trust’s legal team, told Mrs Justice Lieven that specialists thought a termination would be in the woman’s best interests.

‘(Her) treating clinicians consider that on balance, a termination is in her best interests,’ she said, in a written case outline.

‘In broad terms (they) believe that as a result of her learning disabilities, (she) would find labour very difficult to tolerate and the recovery from a Caesarean section very challenging.

‘(They) consider that (she) is likely to find the loss of a pregnancy easier to recover from than separation from the baby if he or she is taken into care.

Let’s ponder this argument for one moment. The government of one of the wealthiest, most influential ‘free’ nations in the world thinks it would be better for a mother to kill her baby before it’s born rather than suffer the emotional trauma of the baby possibly being removed from her care and placed in fostering.

What is worse, the woman’s mother has begged the NHS to allow her daughter to carry the child to term saying she would raise the baby herself. She also has said forcing her daughter into abortion would violate her religious beliefs, both as a Roman Catholic and a member of the Nigerian Igbo community.

That last identifier is enough to make one’s ears prick up. At this very moment, the United Kingdom government is deciding whether or not they will let a Black woman give birth to her Black child, or if they will eliminate yet another minority life before it begins.


The woman’s lawyers claim the NHS has not met the standard of proof to force an abortion.

Barrister Susanna Rickard, who is leading the woman’s legal team, said abortion did not appear to be in her best interests.

Barrister John McKendrick QC, who is leading the woman’s mother’s legal team, suggested that doctors were underestimating the woman’s abilities.

‘It is accepted that (the woman) lacks capacity to conduct these proceedings and to make a decision in respect of whether or not to consent to a termination and associated ancillary treatment,’ he told the judge in a written case outline.

‘That being said, (her mother) considers that the applicant has underestimated (her) ability and understanding, and that more weight should be place on her wishes and feelings.’

He added: ‘Termination is not in (the woman’s) best interests.’

Mr McKendrick said the judge had ‘no proper evidence’ to show that allowing the pregnancy to continue would put the woman’s life or long-term health at grave risk.

‘The applicants have failed to carry out a proper best interests analysis,’ he said.

‘Their evidence is premised on a narrow clinical view. The application must be dismissed,’ he added.

While the NHS “bosses” – as they’re called…creepily – say they don’t want the woman to suffer the trauma of becoming a mother they have given no thought to what the trauma of suddenly being forced to abort her growing child might do. She’s already 22 weeks pregnant. At 22 weeks a baby is already nearly fully developed and just growing. Mom is showing quite prominently. Here’s a picture of a fetus at just 16 weeks.

Westlake Legal Group Ultrasound-Baby-in-4th-month-620x444 Britain’s NHS Is Trying to Force a Mentally Ill Woman to Abort Her 22-Week Baby for Her ‘Own Good’ United Kingdom religious grounds prolife Nigerian NHS mentally ill woman Igbo Front Page Stories Forced Abortion Featured Story catholic Abortion

At this point in her pregnancy, the woman in question will have a significant “baby bump”. She’ll be feeling movement, kicks, perhaps even hiccups. She will be very much aware of the life inside her. The powers that be at the NHS must be monsters or delusional to believe a woman carrying a baby at that stage of development would not be severely traumatized by its sudden and violent removal.

It is almost too much to dwell on.

The U.K. is no stranger to such controversy. The NHS has a terrifying record when it comes to the lives of children. Little Alfie Evans died while legally chained to the NHS after British courts not only denied the sick child continuing life support but denied his parents the right to take him to another country for treatment at their own cost. They weren’t even allowed to take Alfie with them so he could die at home.

The next time a European sounds perplexed at our ongoing division over abortion in this country, remind them that this is what happens when you stop fighting for life. The norm shifts and suddenly reasonable people start thinking it is perfectly fine for a government to decide who can and cannot have children.


The post Britain’s NHS Is Trying to Force a Mentally Ill Woman to Abort Her 22-Week Baby for Her ‘Own Good’ appeared first on RedState.

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Hunt interview: “I’m clearly second-placed now to Boris, and ready to argue that we have better choices as a country than he is offering.”

Jeremy Hunt lives in the wonderful house in Carlton Gardens where Boris Johnson used to live.

He sets out in this interview, carried out beneath portraits of Castlereagh and other great predecessors which adorn the Foreign Secretary’s official residence, why his approach to Brexit is better than Johnson’s, and accuses his rival of being “really defeatist” for implying “that we’re going to have to leave the EU without a deal”.

The interview took place on Friday morning, the day after Hunt came second in the first round of voting, and shortly before Johnson, the front-runner, agreed to participate in some of the television debates, though not in the first one, to be held on Sunday.

When asked about Sajid Javid’s attack on the old school tie, Hunt, who went to Charterhouse, joked that he would not criticise Johnson for going to Eton.

But Hunt added: “In Britain, we unfortunately still have the remnants of a class system, which I absolutely detest with every bone in my body.”

At the end of the interview, he quotes some good advice about the leadership race given to him by his seven-year-old daughter.

ConHome: “Are you the underdog in this contest?”

Hunt: “Absolutely, the underdog. I’m the anti-Establishment candidate who comes from the heart of the Establishment.”

ConHome: “Did either the Prime Minister or the Chancellor vote for you yesterday?”

Hunt: “I’ve no idea.”

ConHome: “You don’t know?”

Hunt: “I absolutely don’t know.”

ConHome: “Have you canvassed them?”

Hunt: “I welcome all votes. Each and every vote that I can get is most welcome.”

ConHome: “You’ve not saying you haven’t canvassed them, but you don’t know how they voted.”

Hunt [laughter]: “All votes are welcome!”

ConHome: “What do you want to say about the debates?”

Hunt: “We have got to have a proper contest with proper scrutiny. Lots of people feel that is what did not happen in 2016. I’m going to make sure this is not the 2016 leadership election.

“It is the 2005 leadership election where the underdog came from the outside, came second in the first round of MPs’ ballots, but then when you had the proper scrutiny, people started thinking about who they wanted to be the leader, David Cameron came through.

“So we’ve got to absolutely make sure that we have that scrutiny, and we cannot do that if the front runner hides away. We have got to have proper media questioning, proper involvement in all the debates. This is to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This is a big, big job, and we just need Boris to be a little bit more brave.”

ConHome: “You’re saying to him, ‘Come over here if you’re hard enough.’”

Hunt: “I’m saying, ‘Subject yourself to the scrutiny that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is going to be facing every single day inside Number Ten. Because if you’re up to this job now you’ll certainly be up to the job of taking part in some TV debates ahead of going in there.”

ConHome: “At one point it was said that you were unwilling to debate if Johnson wouldn’t debate.”

Hunt: “Well I do think that all the candidates should take part in these debates. I’ve always said that I’m delighted to do it. I will do it whatever. But yes, I wanted to try and do something that would encourage Boris to take part, and that’s what I’m calling on him to do today.”

ConHome: “On Thursday morning you tweeted, ‘Woke up this morning and felt a bit like the morning of my wedding’. Does today feel like the day after your wedding?”

Hunt: “Well I had a wonderful wedding. It was actually in the mountains of south-west China. So I felt nothing but elation and joy the morning after my wedding.

“And I’m very excited this morning. You know, lots of speculation that some of the other candidates who are running extremely professional and well-organised campaigns were going to overtake me, but they didn’t.

“And I’m clearly second-placed now to Boris, and ready to make the argument that we have better choices as a country than Boris is now offering us.”

ConHome: “On our figures, yesterday morning we had 74 people undeclared, roughly. Johnson took 30, you took seven, on our figures. You must have been a bit disappointed.”

Hunt: “In these campaigns, anyone who knows the way Westminster works knows there is always a front-runner bandwagon effect. And so I’m not at all surprised if people make the calculation that Boris is most likely to win that they flock behind him.

“That doesn’t mean they really think he would be the best Prime Minister. And that doesn’t mean they think he’s offering this country the best choices it could have.

“And he’s not. And I am.

“I’ve always said I’m willing to embrace no deal if that’s the only way to leave the European Union. But his hard stop of the 31st October means that we would effectively be committing to a no deal Brexit, or a general election if Parliament managed to stop it.

“And I think if we have a Prime Minister who is a negotiator we can get a better deal which changes or removes the backstop and allows us to leave the EU without the risks to businesses and the risks to the Union that a no deal Brexit could involve.”

ConHome: “Do you think you’re reasonably placed if some of the candidates lower down the order drop out?”

Hunt: “I’ve got lots of supporters who are lending their support to other candidates in the first round and have said to me that when their person gets knocked out they will come in behind me.

“But the argument I’m making is it’s not just that my vision of how we leave the EU gives us better options than Boris, but I’ve also got the experience that means I can deliver that. I mean I’ve been in government now, in the Cabinet for nine years.

“I’ve negotiated extremely complex deals, whether it was more funding for the NHS, the junior doctors’ dispute, the BBC licence fee. But I’m an entrepreneur by background. I did negotiation every day of my life before I came into politics.

“In my bones, I don’t think this is going to be easy, but in my bones, there is a deal there. And I want to get that deal for the country because I think that would be way better if we possibly can. In extremis, I’d leave without a deal, of course. We have to deliver the referendum result.

“We’re not at that point yet, and I think it’s really defeatist to say that we’re going to have to leave the EU without a deal, which is effectively what Boris is saying.”

ConHome: “You would serve under Boris?”

Hunt: “I would serve under Boris and I hope he would serve under me.”

ConHome: “Sajid Javid has made a lot of his state education. You would be the first Old Carthusian Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, who held office from 1812-1827 and ran a big team including Wellington [gestures at the picture of Wellington on the wall].

“Is there too much class war in today’s Conservative Party?”

Hunt: “I am not going to criticise Boris for going to a posher public school than me [laughter]. You know, that is the politics of envy gone completely mad, and I’m just not going to go there at all.”

ConHome: “Javid was doing a lot of anti-old-school- tie stuff, which to me at least sounded a bit old-fashioned.”

Hunt: “In Britain, we unfortunately still have the remnants of a class system, which I absolutely detest with every bone in my body. But we are a country where everyone has a background of some sort, but what British people are interested in is what you’re going to do as Prime Minister.

“I think if anyone looks at my background they’ll see I’m someone who started a business from scratch, without any capital. I’ve faced massive challenges in my life, I was the longest serving Health Secretary, hardly the easiest job in government.

“They want to know, are you up for all the challenges, all the battles any Prime Minister has. And I think my background speaks for itself.”

ConHome: “Coming out of the traps fighting, aren’t you.”

Hunt: “Because I think that our country deserves better choices that it’s be offered by Boris Johnson at the moment, and I’m going to make that argument to the very end.”

ConHome: “Just on the Brexit policy and all that, you said in The Daily Telegraph on 27th May, ‘With the current deal, I cannot see a way forward.’

“So we want to be clear what you’re going to do with the negotiation. Is the whole deal dead? Are you dropping the Withdrawal Agreement, or are you trying to build on it?”

Hunt: “With the backstop as it is, the Withdrawal Agreement is dead. I believe that if you could remove the elements of the current deal that mean we could be trapped in the Customs Union indefinitely, it may still be possible to get a parliamentary majority for that Withdrawal Agreement.

“Certainly I think it would have been earlier this year. But to do that you’re going to have to rebuild the Conservative/DUP coalition, which is badly frayed, and that’s why I would have the DUP, the Scottish Tories, Welsh Tories, the ERG, in my negotiating team.

“So that we only put forward proposals that Brussels knows the British Government can deliver through Parliament.”

ConHome: “And you’re prepared to extend if necessary? That’s what you were saying earlier. You can’t treat this as a hard deadline.”

Hunt: “Any extension is highly undesirable. But it is impossible to know what situation you may be in on 31st October.

“A wise Prime Minister will make choices on the basis of the situation as it is then. We don’t know for example what Parliament might have done with the law around no deal.

“We don’t know who the new people taking over the European Commission are.

“If we got to 31st October and there was no prospect of a good deal that could get through Parliament, then I would consider no deal if Parliament had kept it on the table at that point.

“But I’m not going to get drawn about the choice I would make on that date when I don’t actually know what the real choices are. I don’t think any wise Prime Minister would do that.”

ConHome: “You did think aloud, actually it got you into a bit of hot water, about what would happen if the Conservative Party faced an election and hadn’t delivered Brexit – you used the word ‘disastrous’.”

Hunt: “Suicide.”

ConHome: “Does that mean, you’re the leader, for whatever reason things go wrong and you can’t get what you want through the Commons, are you therefore, in that situation, doomed to lead a campaign that’s going to lose?”

Hunt: “Look, the one choice I will not make, and this is my absolute commitment, is that I will not lead the party into a general election or provoke a general election until we’ve delivered Brexit.

“We cannot go back for another mandate from the British people until we deliver what we promised we’d do in the last mandate. So that’s what I was talking about in terms of political suicide.

“And my concern about the hard deadline is if Parliament then blocked it, it’s not as likely thankfully after last week but it’s still not impossible, and there’s always the no confidence motion route, you could then be in a situation where the only way you overcame a difficult Parliament was to force an election, and I think that would be catastrophic.

“Because if you look at what happened with the Peterborough by-election, we were squeezed by the Brexit Party on the Right and the Lib Dems on the Left. Labour comes through the middle.”

ConHome: “The question isn’t whether you’d choose one or provoke one, which would obviously be a crazy thing to do. It’s could you win one if it’s forced on you.”

Hunt: “You say I wouldn’t choose one or provoke one, but the candidates who said they will leave on 31st October come what May are choosing one if the Parliament blocks it.

“Because in order to honour that promise, they would have to take measures to overturn what Parliament is trying to do.

“That’s why I’m saying it’s a dangerous thing to do to have that hard deadline. It might be the only way you can keep that promise is to get a general election in order to change the parliamentary arithmetic.

“If I was forced into an election, well I don’t want to go there, that’s not what I want, but I think someone who had tried hard to get a deal would be far more likely to get the votes of 48 per cent of the country who voted Remain than someone who hadn’t tried.

“And if you look at the polling I saw yesterday that said I am best placed to get votes from both Remainers and Leavers, because Leavers know I am absolutely committed to leaving, but Remainers know I am absolutely committed to do so in a way that is positive.”

ConHome: “Do you now regret that in your party conference speech you compared the European Union to the Soviet Union?”

Hunt: “The point I was making in that speech is one that I stand behind, which is that the EU was set up as a club of free countries to stand together in the face of Soviet totalitarianism and to maintain freedom and democracy in Europe.

“And therefore it is not appropriate for the EU to act in a way that makes it impossible for someone to leave a club of free nations. That was the point I was making, and I do think the EU needs to behave in a fair way in these negotiations.

“And I believe that if we give them the right Prime Minister, who is prepared to engage with them, but also negotiate with the toughness and the determination that we need, I think we can get a deal that is right for the UK and allows us to leave.”

ConHome: “So does the EU need a sort of Gorbachev figure?”

Hunt: “Well I think that if you talk to European leaders, they do understand that Britain is one of the oldest democracies in Europe, and we have to respect what the people have decided.

“And it has to be a deal that allows us the parliamentary sovereignty that we voted for, including leaving the Customs Union. So I think they do understand that.

“I think they have sincere worries about the Northern Irish border. And so given that we’re clearly not going to be able to address those through the backstop, we have to find another way of doing it.

“And I happen to think the technology-led solutions are the right ones. But if they’re going to be the right way forward, then we’ll need to find a way of dealing with the issues that happen when people disagree about what technology’s capable of doing.”

ConHome: “Can they be done quickly?”

Hunt: “I believe they can be. The EU believes they can’t be. So that’s why we need to find a mechanism to arbitrate when there’s a disagreement.”

ConHome: “Because the Steve Baker/ERG position seems to be that you don’t need new technology at the moment to make alternative arrangements work.”

Hunt: “Yes, and I think their arguments are very compelling on that. But, you know, if you’re going to sign an agreement where there is a disagreement about something as fundamental as whether the technology can work, you need a mechanism to resolve that disagreement.”

ConHome: “Just on that Soviet Union point, no doubt some of this is anti-Hunt propaganda, but what is put around is ‘oh well, we can’t have Jeremy because he’s already blotted his copybook with the EU by comparing it to the Soviet Union, and Tusk got very cross and the Poles were infuriated, so he didn’t really understand the complexities of the issue and all that.’

“What do you say to that?”

Hunt: “I think it’s a curious argument to make when my rival is Boris. But look, the argument I was making is that if the EU is reasonable we will be reasonable, and we will find a way to leave the EU which means we can remain good neighbours and the best of friends.

“And I think that’s what people in this country want. If you leave without a deal, which in extremis I would do, but only in extremis, you are making it likely we will have very difficult relations with our neighbours for generations to come, and, you know, I don’t think that should be our first choice.”

ConHome: “For the party, one of the choices near the heart of this leadership election is this. The Prime Minister is on record as having said a hundred times we leave on 29th March. We didn’t leave.

“She then said we should leave in June. We didn’t leave in June. She said having European elections would be unacceptable. They happened.

“Now throughout this you and the other people at the top of the Cabinet, you’ve done your duty and served on, because that’s what you do, you’re serious people and serious ministers.

“But some people would say the danger is you’ve now been tarnished by association with what happened. And with the Brexit Party rampaging around we need something new.

“And people are just going to look at Jeremy Hunt or some of the other candidates and say, ‘It’s more of the same’.”

Hunt: “You don’t solve a problem by walking away from it. And I have many profound disagreements with Theresa May.

“Over the course of the Brexit negotiations, I did not want to settle when we had the backstop in place.

“I didn’t think that it would get through Parliament and I was unhappy with some of its provisions.

“But in the end the choice people are going to be making is who is going to do the right thing for the country and give us the best possible choices.

“And with respect to the Brexit Party, Lynton’s own polling, which let’s be clear has been produced for furthering the interests of one particular candidate, says that the majority of Brexit Party voters will not come back to us, even if Boris is leader.

“The only way we deal with the Brexit Party is to Brexit.

“So the question is who the person who is most likely to get us a Brexit that allows the country to move on.”

ConHome: “When the Prime Minister sought at one point to move you from Health, you stayed on for a bit, and it’s said you drew a comparison with an admiral or a captain in charge of a ship who didn’t think it was right to go.

“People don’t ask you very much about your background. Did you pick up this sense of duty from your father? What did you learn from having an admiral for a father?”

Hunt: “Well, my dad did have a very big influence on me, he’s not with us any more, I think everyone’s father has a big influence on them.

“In my dad’s case he had a tremendous sense of duty, but he always believed in basic human decency. He always believed that people, even if they get to the very top of the tree, should show decency to everyone around them.

“So in a probably rather imperfect way that is something I try to follow.”

ConHome: “When did you decide to go into politics? You were politically active at Oxford, weren’t you, before you then went abroad.”

Hunt: “I got very interested in politics at Oxford. I was hugely inspired by Margaret Thatcher, who was at the height of her powers between 1985 and 1988.

“And I got active with the Oxford University Conservative Association. But actually what she inspired me to do was start my business.”

ConHome: “Had you contested a seat before you contested the one you won?”

Hunt: “No, and I was rather horrified when I was selected for South West Surrey, because I didn’t for a moment think they’d choose me. It was a highly marginal seat and I really put my name forward for interview practice, because I had no experience of politics apart from university politics.

“Then to my shock they chose me, and I suddenly had the battle of my life, with a very dug-in Lib Dem candidate, who’d been doing nothing but politics his whole life, and had reduced the Conservative majority to just 861 votes.”

ConHome: “Although your head was not above the parapet, you were a decapitation seat in 2005.”

Hunt: “We were the number three Lib Dem target in the country. It was a time when the Lib Dems were very strong and were doing very very well. They had posters all over the constituency saying ‘861 to go’.

“I have an amazing team of people in South West Surrey but I know what it’s like to knock on every single door.”

ConHome: “There have been so many policy pledges flying around in this campaign it’s been quite difficult to keep up with them. You’ve been quite limited, haven’t you.

“You’ve made the point about corporation tax. What else have you pushed?”

Hunt: “To make a success of Brexit we have to turbo-charge the economy. In a decade’s time the verdict of history will be that Brexit was a success if our growth outpaced our European neighbours, and Brexit is a failure if it doesn’t.

“You look at America, which has GDP growth double ours at the moment, through some very smart business tax cuts that Trump introduced, and I think you’ve got to do something at the point of Brexit that shows the world that we are absolutely determined to become the most pro-business, pro-enterprise, fastest growing high-tech economy in Europe.

“And so the big symbolic thing that I would do would be to cut corporation tax to Irish levels, 12.5 per cent, which is one of the very lowest in Europe and even in the world.

“I would also look at capital allowances and cut business rates. These are not populist tax cuts. These are to send a message to the world that we are going to land an economic jumbo jet on the doorstep of Europe at the point of Brexit.

“My second big pledge is that we also need to send a signal to the world that Britain is out there, we are reaffirming our global vocation, and so I’ve said we will increase defence spending to beyond two per cent of GDP.

“The two other areas where I’ve made pledges are education, where our national blind spot is the 50 per cent of school leavers who don’t go to university.

“And then the final one is, as a party, our strategic priority has to be young people. I think the single thing that jars most with young people is the interest rate on tuition fees. I cannot explain on the doorstep why someone should be paying six per cent interest rate. It’s just not fair and I think we need to address that.”

ConHome: “It’s not a very long list compared to some of the other candidates.”

Hunt: “No, it’s a simple list, and I’ll tell you why. Because I think I’ve learned in government you have to have a very short list of things that you’re actually going to change.”

ConHome: “What’s Mrs Hunt making of all this?”

Hunt: “Mrs Hunt is the first to admit that when we got married she knew nothing at all about British politics. I was actually an MP when we met, but she didn’t even know what that meant.

“So she has been on a learning curve. But she is the most competitive, driven person I know. She is absolutely determined for me to succeed.

“And she’s an absolutely incredible person. For me, the benefit of having a foreign wife is they sometimes have a sensible sense of perspective about the madness of British politics.

“My daughter said to me this morning – by the way this is a seven-year-old girl – I’ve got some advice for you daddy: ‘Don’t criticise your rivals. Copy their best ideas.’

“That’s not bad for a seven-year-old.”

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