08/06/2019 22:30 BST

Jeremy Hunt Promises Housing Blitz And To Slash Student Loan Interest

The foreign secretary also pledged specialist mental health support for every school.

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Jeremy Hunt has pledged to combat the housing crisis with 1.5 million new homes.

Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a raft of new policy pledges as part of his bid to become the next prime minister.

The foreign secretary promised a blitz on housing to build 1.5 million new homes over the next decade.

And in a bid to broaden his party’s appeal beyond Brexit and in a pitch across generations, Hunt also said he would:

  • deploy mental health support teams in every school
  • act on climate change by targeting the year 2050 for net zero emissions
  • slash rates of interest on tuition fee debt 
  • and encourage more support for young entrepreneurs 

Hunt said the Tory party needed to learn the lesson of its defeat in the Peterborough by-election, where the Conservatives came third behind the new Brexit Party on Thursday.

“There is no majority in relying just on those who voted for us in 2017 and the party now faces a choice about whether we want write off our chances with young people,” he said.

“I believe we have to unite the country, especially the divide between young and old.

“As prime minister, I would deliver my pledge to young people to show that - when it comes to housing, climate change, mental health and education - we are on your side.”

Hunt championed his work as health secretary in delivering spending increases for the NHS and said he would go further as PM in ensuring specialist mental health teams were based within schools and colleges.

He also faced into criticism of the current student finance system by pledging to slash additional interest rates on top of inflation.

Currently, students pay interest at the retail price index measure of inflation, plus up to three percent. Hunt’s promise to remove the additional percentage rate could mean some graduates save thousands in repayments.

It came as new research by pollsters Opinium showed Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart came joint top in a public survey asking who would make the best prime minister.

The online poll of 2,000 UK adults found Stewart, the international development secretary, was the only candidate “with more positive than negative perceptions from the general public as a whole,” Opinium’s chief, James Endersby, said.

How will the next Tory party leader – and PM – be chosen?

By Jasmin Gray, politics news reporter

The next PM will effectively be decided by Tory MPs and the party’s membership when they pick their next leader.

After nominations for the top job close, there are a series of ballots giving Tory MPs the chance to vote for their favourite candidates.

The least-popular contenders will be knocked out of the race in each round until just two remain.

The vote will then be put to Conservative Party members, who will get to choose between the two Tory MPs still in the race.

Whoever gets the most votes will become the UK’s next prime minister.