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Live blog as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt come to Kent for Tory leadership race

The two contenders vying to become the next Conservative party leader and Prime Minister are in Kent tonight for the latest hustings as the campaign enters its final few days.

Several hundred party members from around the county will be at a tonight’s event to quiz Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt about their plans and policy pledges.

Opinion polls continue to suggest that Mr Johnson is odds on favourite to succeed Theresa May and he has the backing of all but two of Kent’s MPs.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will be in Kent later
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will be in Kent later

LISTEN: Our political editor Paul Francis tells us about tonights Tory leadership hustings

Brexit continues to dominate the leadership campaign with both candidates arguing they are best-placed to ensure that the UK meets the October deadline for departure from the EU.

With Kent on the Brexit frontline, both can expect to face questions about contingency measures and Operation Brock.

Follow our live blog on the build up to the hustings and debate which gets underway at 7pm:

9pm The hustings event is over - check out our round-up story covering the meeting online in the morning - good night.

8.58pm Jeremy Hunt was asked if there is way of bringing Farage into fold - "no, he wants a no-deal straightaway" and best way of defeating the Brexit party.

And on whether he would sack cabinet members who tried to frustrate Brexit, says every cabinet member would have to sign commitment to deliver departure - big cheer for that.

8.51pm Jeremy Hunt On question about tax cuts: "My priority for tax cuts would be those on lower incomes - not those on higher earnings"

8.46pm Jeremy Hunt "I would vote leave" - Hunt asked how he'd vote now.

Says doom-laden predictions that UK economy were inaccurate - reference there to George Osborne's emergency budget that was published days before referendum.

8.39pm Jeremy Hunt "We do need to look at police numbers" and that too was an area where government cuts went too far, along with adult care.

After the whirlwind of Boris Johnson, Hunt's more sober tone has left the conference hall slightly underwhelmed.

And the sauna-like heat is draining energy levels.

8.31pm Jeremy Hunt Asked what will he do to improve adult social care and particularly end-of-life care says there would be more money for councils - and admits cuts under austerity went further than they should have

8.27pm Jeremy Hunt "I am confident that we will have smooth passage of traffic through ports - I may regret saying that - and you have a problem with M20" - answers audience question about minimising disruption to Kent in event of Brexit no-deal

8.22pm Jeremy Hunt - Long diatribe attacking Corbyn then pivots to "we need this Jeremy" and he will get rid of the other one.

It's a bit of an odd way to round off his address to the audience but he gets a decent round of applause before start of questions.

He manages to slip in reference to Medway Hospital - "we got that out of special measures - something I am very proud of."

8.14pm Jeremy Hunt jokes about being an entrepreneur and how that would help him as PM. Says he has plan to turbo charge the economy but "We have to have a social mission and that would focus on education"

8.06pm And that's it from Boris; we're now on to Jeremy Hunt but not before we get the usual fuzzy feel-good video...

8.01pm Boris Johnson "The idea that green field or green belt land needs to be sacrificed to build affordable homes is a nonsense; still brown field land available" - even in south east - gets a cheer for that unsurprisingly given he's in Garden of England

7.54pm Question for Boris Johnson on what measures he would take to help farmers if "no deal" - "there will be £39bn to spend" to support farming sector" and dismisses idea of vote on hunting saying there are "far more important things" - like Brexit

7.41pm Boris Johnson "My experience is people just want to get this (Brexit) done - people can see that we won't recover as a party for years.

"If I have one criticism it is that we haven't been quite dynamic enough over the last three years."

7.36pm Boris Johnson was asked why he hasn't been critical of Trump says he has and that America and UK will have strong relationship if he's PM #hustingskent

"I will do everything I can to unite the party and bring us together" - we are now on to questions from audience - first is what he plans to do to recover support from female voters. He seems to have drifted into knife crime now.

7.32pmBoris Johnson "Politics has changed and hundreds of people have drifted away from party. MPs understand that."

But he dismisses idea of snap general election saying he has no plans to call one.

7.19pm And we are off - Boris Johnson first up

"Fantastic to be in Maidstone- things are hotting up. We are going to get Brexit done' - big cheer for that

"There are people who say the planes won't fly and there will not be enough glucose and whey for Mars bars"

More seriously he say that there should be vital road improvements like dualling the A2.

Inside the hustings meeting(13702555)
Inside the hustings meeting(13702555)

7.09pm A cheerful Jeremy Hunt arrives at the venue and the hustings is expected to start soon

Jeremy Hunt arrives at the venue
Jeremy Hunt arrives at the venue

7.04pm Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately thinks that it has been right to have a campaign in which party members have been able to quiz candidates

Helen Whately arriving at the hustings
Helen Whately arriving at the hustings

6.53pm Kent County Council leader Paul Carter wont be persuaded to disclose which candidate he favours. "I will reflect on what they have to sayI normally vote late in the day "

6.44pm "I have just been at Dover it is incredible how ready they are" Boris Johnson tells activists as he arrives for #kenthustings

6.41pm Boris Johnson arrives at the hustings venue in Maidstone

Boris arrives at the venue
Boris arrives at the venue

6.11pm This takes the prize for most patriotic attire - as worn by party member Lina Dimitri

A great outfit
A great outfit

6pm Helen Grant..."The campaign has maybe gone on a little too long but it is very important that party members have the chance to hear what the candidates have to say."

Helen Grant is backing Boris
Helen Grant is backing Boris

5.50pm Here's Boris Johnson supporter the county councillor @MaidstonePaul: "We need to get a strong mandate so we can deliver Brexit and unite the party"

One Boris supporter
One Boris supporter

5.36pm As you'd anticipate; there expecting a lot of press interest in the latest head-to head hustings

There is a lot of press interest in the event
There is a lot of press interest in the event

5.11pm Boris Johnson meets practising Channel relay swimmers at Dover Seafront area

Boris Johnson meets practising Channel relay swimmers
Boris Johnson meets practising Channel relay swimmers

5.09pm Still in Dover, local man greets Boris Johnson as he leaves for his rally with fellow Conservatives

Boris Johnson meeting people in Dover
Boris Johnson meeting people in Dover


We're not allowed to tell you where the conservative hustings meeting is until 5:30. It's a pretty large space and we understand that close to 1000 party members could be attending.


Boris in Dover (13699702)
Boris in Dover (13699702)

Boris Johnson is with local MP Charlie Elphicke and Dover Harbour Board chief executive Doug Bannister on New Dover pier. He views the Dover Western Docks Revival development and is told about the new saga ship spirit of Discovery. He is meeting local Tories at a rally


We are not allowed to tell you where we are for tonight's hustings until 5.30pm. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been holding a mini rally to warm up in Dover, let's hope he leaves enough time to work his way through that nasty #OperationBrock contra-flow along the M20...

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.

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