September 30, 2018
Foreign secretary made incendiary claim during party conference speech.
Jeremy Hunt Misjudged Brexiteer Tories With Toe Curling EU/USSR Comparison
Jeremy Hunt has been told he “misjudged” Brexiteer Tories by trying to appeal to them by comparing the EU to the USSR.
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on Sunday afternoon, the foreign secretary, who is often tipped as a possible successor to Theresa May, launched a outspoken attack on Brussels.
“What happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving,” he told party activists in Birmingham.
“The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won’t diminish it will grow and we won’t be the only prisoner that will want to escape.”
Hunt campaigned for ‘Remain’ in the 2016 referendum and following David Cameron’s resignation suggested there should be another vote on the eventual Brexit deal. However he has since said he would vote ‘Leave’.
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister told HuffPost UK that Hunt was trying “too hard” to appeal to eurosceptics and did not agree with the USSR comparison.
“People who were for ‘Remain’ trying to appeal to Brexiteers time and again go too far,” he said when asked about Hunt’s comment.
“Time and again. Saying things that are just too strident and make my toes curl,” he said.
Baker wields significant influence on the backbenches as a leading member of the hardline Brexit European Research Group (ERG).
“I am an old English classical liberal. I don’t want to hear toe curling messages about migration. I like people. What I want migration under democratic control,” Baker said.
“It’s wrong when people go over too hard to try and attract Brexiteers and more often than not when they say something strident they have misjudged what someone like me wants to hear.
“I want to hear freedom loving inclusive things which treat people equally and advance prosperity.”
In his speech, Hunt also said the EU should “never mistake British politeness for British weakness”.
“Because if you put a country like Britain in a corner, we don’t crumble. We fight,” the foreign secretary said.
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