The Spectator

Full transcript: Jeremy Hunt’s Andrew Neil interview

Full transcript: Jeremy Hunt's Andrew Neil interview
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AN: Jeremy Hunt - like Theresa May you voted to Remain. Like Theresa May you’re a Tory technocrat. Like Theresa May you voted for her Brexit deal, three times. Why would the Tories want more of the same when it’s hardly been a golden age for them?

JH: Because, Andrew, I am a totally different person and I have a totally different plan. And I did vote three times for Theresa May’s deal and I’ll tell you exactly why: because I wanted to leave the European Union as quickly as possible. And had we voted to do that, as indeed did Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg and many other people, we would have left the EU by now and I think we would have been in a better position as a country.

AN: But a lot of Tories look at you and they say, “We tried you. It didn’t work.” Trying Theresa in trousers isn’t going to be any better.

JH: Well, I am certainly not that and I am the person who argued in the Cabinet, very strongly, for a different approach to these negotiations. I didn’t think the backstop was the right way forward; I thought we should have negotiated harder. But I was also a loyal Foreign Secretary and I think Theresa May had a tremendous sense of duty to our country and I owed her that loyalty. But, now we have a leadership contest, I am arguing for a different approach and that’s what I’ll deliver as Prime Minister.

AN: But your problem is that in this leadership contest almost everything you say now flies in the face of your previous positions. You mentioned the backstop. You claim the Irish backstop was quote: “Never something you believed in.” That, quote: “You argued against it.” Can I just remind you, Mr Hunt, you voted for it. Not once, not twice, three times.

JH: Indeed. And –

AN: So where’s the credibility?

JH: The reason I voted for it was because at every stage I voted for us to leave the European Union as quickly as possible. And I didn’t think it was perfect, but I would have preferred right today to be outside the European Union, to have left the EU, to have resolved that issue and then to tackle the – the imperfections in that deal, the main one of which was the backstop. And as I say, other leading Eurosceptics, people like Jacob Rees-Mogg, for exactly the same reasons, they also voted for that deal because they also wanted us to leave as quickly as possible.

AN: But it does give you a credibility problem. For example, after the 2016 referendum you said there should be a General Election or another referendum on the terms of the UK’s exit. But of course now you’re trying to lead a Brexit party, such words would never leave your lips.

JH: Not at all. What I said –

AN: Oh, you want another referendum?

JH: No, what I said was that there should be in that article which I think was written a week after the referendum result, was that there should be democratic endorsement of the shape of the Brexit that we did, and that is indeed what happened. We have a –

AN: Oh, you said the terms.

JH: Yeah. Yeah, well we had a General Election in which over 80 percent of the country voted for parties that wanted to leave the European single market and leave the customs union. So we’ve had that endorsement of the shape of Brexit –

AN: We didn’t know –

JH: – and that is what I’m supporting.

AN: We did not know in the 2017 election what the terms would be. We didn’t know the shape of the deal. The deal hadn’t been done.

JH: What I was arguing for is the principles of whether we stayed in or out of the single market. Whether we stayed in or out of the customs union.

NI: You wanted a referendum about the terms, Mr Hunt. You’re now changing your position to try and sound consistent.

JH: No, I’m not.

NI: But you’re not consistent.

JH: Not at all. The terms, the basic principles of whether we leave, the terms of whether we stay in the single market or not – those weren’t resolved by the referendum, they were resolved by the election, and I have voted at every stage. And I want to tell you the most important reason why I voted. How can I be a Foreign Secretary who stands up for democratic principles in somewhere like Hong Kong, if I’m not prepared to stand up for democratic principles at home in this, one of the oldest, most robust democracies in the world? I am someone who says we are known for being the country where people like me do what the people tell us to do. And that is why, when it comes to something as important as the Brexit referendum we have to show the world that yes, we are that democracy where the people are the boss. And that is in our country’s DNA and it’s also in my DNA as well.

AN: Well, at the moment under your government to the rest of the world we look like a democracy that hasn’t got a clue where it’s going. And you say the new Prime Minister –

JH: Well that’s what I want to resolve, Andrew, and that’s why I – that’s why we need to choose someone who can resolve it.

AN: We’ve had three years of it in which you’ve been in government. And you say, “the new Prime Minister has to be someone Brussels will talk to”. That’s your words.  Are you saying Brussels wouldn’t talk to Boris Johnson?

JH: Well, people can make their own conclusions, but as you kindly showed it –

AN: No, no, I’m asking what did you mean by that, by that statement? Are you – you must – otherwise the statement is meaningless – you must be implying that Brussels will not talk to Boris Johnson?

JH: No. And I have avoided in this leadership campaign making personal comments about Boris, because we’ve got to come together as a party at the end of this. Let me tell you exactly what I meant by that statement. I, as you kindly showed in the clip before, I would be the first Prime Minister who’s been an entrepreneur –

AN: You’re an entrepreneur?

JH: Yeah.

AN: Who knew that?

JH: Have you not heard that before, Andrew?

AN: Well, only about 50 times.

JH: Well, let’s make it breaking news on this interview, because I think that’s a significant point. What do you do when you’re negotiating as an entrepreneur? You have to do a deal with someone you trust. People won’t do a deal with people they don’t trust. And this is very important because at the moment Parliament is trying to take no deal off the table. It succeeded in March. It’s trying again. So the quickest way to leave the European Union is to send to Brussels a Prime Minister who can negotiate a deal that will get through Parliament and I’m that person.

AN: When you were an entrepreneur you didn’t do negotiations anything like what will be required in Brussels, anything like the scale. And you go on about being an entrepreneur, you weren’t exactly Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, were you?

JH: No, I wasn’t and I have great –

AN: So it doesn’t train you to do negotiations in Brussels.

JH: Well, I think you do learn the basics of negotiation. The learn the basics of being prepared to walk away. You learn the basics of not being able to blink – and Andrew, you know this could be –

AN: We need more than the basics, Mr Hunt.

JH: This could be the smallest contract for someone trying to get a business off the ground as I did, but those basics remain the same. And I will tell you that in government those same skills I use to negotiate very complex things like the Licence Fee deal with the BBC, the NHS pay awards... And I have indeed, you know, the protracted dispute to try and get a peace process going in Yemen. So that business of negotiation has been something I have been doing all my life.

AN: Let’s be honest. You may have been doing it all your life but you have no track record of successful negotiation in the big league. Maybe in the minor league, but this is the big league Mr Hunt.

JH: Don’t belittle people up and down the country who have built up businesses as –

AN: You know that’s not what I’m doing.

JH: No, it is, because you’re saying that those skills you learn doing those small things early on in your life aren’t relevant to later on. Of course they are. They are how all of us learn to do the big things.

AN: Speaking of Boris Johnson, when you tried to pin him down to back our Ambassador in Washington in the ITV debate, and he didn’t, you must have realised then that that made the Ambassador’s resignation more likely.

JH: I was disappointed, because I think we have to back our diplomats all over the world. We actually have probably the best diplomats of any country, highly professional people, and Sir Kim was doing his job. He was giving his own personal but totally honest view about the country he was serving in.

AN: But did it make his resignation more likely?

JH: Well, he said that it was one of the factors and I think it’s very –

AN: He has?

JH: He has said that and I think –

AN: Not being backed by Boris Johnson, has he told you that?

JH: He’s said it publicly actually and I think he’s been clear that that was one of the factors and I think it’s a great shame. Because I need as Foreign Secretary our ambassadors to be able to tell me as Foreign Secretary exactly what’s going on in their countries, exactly what they think and – and I think they need to know that we’re going to stand behind them.

AN: Back to Brexit. You say that if there’s no prospect of a deal by the 30th of September, you will – I quote your words: “Immediately cease all discussions with the EU. Focus the whole country’s mission on no deal preparations.” But why would you do that before your very first EU Summit which is not until October 17th? I mean this is just a posture for Brexit votes, isn’t it? It makes no sense.

JH: It does. Because –

AN: Before an EU Summit?

JH: Because we will talk to the EU. It’s entirely possible that if those talks are going well they would summon an extra summit in September. They want to resolve this quickly as well. And what I’m saying is that it’s very straightforward. The thing – to go back to your very first question – the main thing that I would do differently to Theresa May is I would not be proposing anything to Brussels that we can’t get through Parliament. And so my negotiating team would have the DUP, the ERG, the Brexit purists in our party, Scottish and Welsh Conservatives, because we must think about the Union as well. We’ll put that deal together in August, discussing it with the Irish governments –

AN: If you’re lucky.

JH: Well, you know we will put that deal together and it will be a deal that can get through Parliament because it will be a deal that works for those groups of people. Then in September we will have proper formal discussions with the EU and I think we’ll know pretty quickly if there’s a deal to be done. But if there isn’t we’re not going to hang around –

AN: So you would walk away before your first summit?

JH: No, it’s not walking away. I’m just saying to them –

AN: Well, it is. You could decide there’s no point and you’d not even had a summit with the EU. I thought you said you’d learned a lot about negotiation?

JH: Yes, and we will be talking to EU leaders, I’ll be talking to them in August and September. You don’t need an EU summit to talk to EU leaders, so we’ll have those discussions.

AN: I know you want people to take you seriously on leaving with no deal, particularly the kind of Tory electorate you have to appeal to, but only –

JH: As they should.

AN: Only in February you said failing to secure a ratified Withdrawal Agreement would be deeply damaging politically as well as economically. And you are now prepared to take us down a deeply damaging route.

JH: I have never hidden from the risks of no deal. But we are a democracy, as I said to you, and I’ve always said, and this is something I’ve said ever since we made that referendum decision, if the only way to leave the EU was without a deal we should do that and we could make a success of it. But the way that we’ll make a success of it is being honest about the risks to business, about the risks to our Union. Just think what Nicola Sturgeon would do –

AN: Sure.

JH: And the risks in Northern Ireland. And the way you deal with those problems is not by pretending they don’t exist, but by facing them head on. And that is what I would do as Prime Minister, that’s why I’ve announced the package of - to support businesses.

AN: I understand and we’ll come on to that in a minute, but you told us only a year ago that the only person rejoicing at a no deal Brexit would be Vladimir Putin. And that’s the route you now are prepared to go.

JH: I am. And indeed you’re right.

AN: So that Mr Putin can rejoice. Make the Kremlin happy?

JH: Well, Vladimir Putin wants anything that causes disruption and what I was saying –

AN: And you’re going to provide it.

JH: And what I was saying in that interview is that we have to be very careful. I was saying to the Europeans actually in that interview, because I was in Holland when I gave that interview, be very careful. If you think that no deal is going to be a smooth process – it risks fracturing the friendship.

AN: You called it a huge geostrategic mistake that we would regret for generations. Why would you want to go down this road if that’s what you really think?

JH: I don’t want to go down that route –

AN: No, but you might be forced to and you’re prepared to.

JH: But I am willing – I am prepared to and I’m prepared to because we are a democracy and in the end leadership – being the Prime Minister of our country is about making choices and the number one choice I make, Andrew, is that we are a democracy. We do what the people tell us. And if we take those risks, we will make them work. But my argument in that interview to European countries is that this is not something that you in Europe should take lightly either. Because the strength of Europe has been that partnership between the UK and Europe and that’s why we should avoid this if we can.

AN: How can you make something work that you believe we will regret for generations?

JH: I said that the Europeans would regret for gener –

AN: No, no, you said we would regret it too.  It was in July you were talking about the Europeans; it was in August you were talking about us. You said – it was to ITV News – you said it would be “a huge strategic mistake, we would regret it for generations.” I mean I guess my point is, Mr Hunt, that that’s what  you really think and  that is what you really think why don’t you leave it to somebody else to deliver this? Someone who really believes in it, when you clearly don’t believe in it. You clearly think it’s the wrong way to go.

JH: No. And let me answer that question very directly. What I was talking about in that interview was that, for the whole of Europe, there are risks in no deal and it is better to avoid them by coming to a deal.

AN:            I understand that.

JH: And at that point in the negotiations they were refusing to budge and I was pointing out to them the risks of that. But what I say, and what I say as prospective Prime Minister of this country, is that as a democracy, we are leaving the European Union. And if the only way that the Europeans will allow that to happen is without a deal, then so be it, we will do it. But it isn’t my first choice.

AN: I understand, sorry you –

JH: And you are absolutely right, you’re absolutely right, that there are elements of no deal that would be very disruptive to businesses, very disruptive to our union, but we will make it work. We are Britain. We are a country that has had much bigger challenges than that in our past. If I think about –

AN: No, no, I –

JH: The D-Day celebrations, all that stuff, we have those challenges –

JN: I’ve heard all the rhetoric, Mr Hunt, but –

JH: But, but no, this is not rhetoric. This is not rhetoric –

AN: Let’s stick to the facts.

JH: The facts here are that if we want to avoid those potentially difficult consequences in a no deal situation, choose a Prime Minister who can negotiate a deal. That also happens to be the lowest risk way of leaving the European Union.

AN: So let’s look at the deal that you would want. Do you intend to replace the May agreement or to change the May agreement?

JH: To change it.

AN: To change it. And what’s the single biggest change you want to make?

JH: The back stop.

AN: And if you got that, would that by and large make it acceptable?

JH: I think it would broadly make it deliverable within Parliament. I think that certainly earlier this year that would be the case, but I will be, as I say, putting together a negotiating team within…

AN: But what other changes would you want?

JH: Well that is the principle change, because I –

AN: So what other changes?

JH: Well I think that – I’m saying that is the main change, and I –

AN: Well that’s the only change. Let’s be honest, Jeremy.

JH: I think that is the main change, yes.

AN: It’s the only change you want, Mr Hunt.

JH: It’s – well I happen to think it’s the main one, there may be other elements, but I’m –

AN: But you can’t tell me?

JH: Well, what I’ve said to you, Andrew, if you remember from the earlier answer is that I will put together a negotiating team –

AN: Sure.

JH: Which has that coalition to get the deal through Parliament and I will listen and I will be clear that we will not propose anything that we cannot get through Parliament.

AN: You claim that Chancellor Merkel has told you she’s prepared to look at changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. We’ve spoken to the German Chancellery and they have told us the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for renegotiation.

JH: What I said was that Chancellor Merkel had said to me that if a new British Prime Minister came forward with a different plan for the Northern Irish border, of course they would look at the package and that is because they want to find a solution to this and the question is – it’s not a choice about whether or not we leave. That decision has been made. It is who is the Prime Minister who is most likely to get us out of the EU quickly and my worry is if people vote with their hearts, perhaps, instead of their heads, we will end up with a general election before we get to Brexit.

AN: But what…

JH: If they support me, they are choosing someone who is not going to pretend this is easy, but someone who actually has a chance of getting us out of the European Union quickly which means a deal that can get through Parliament. And that’s what I can do.

AN: You’ve said that you would go beyond October the 31st if we were close to a deal and many people may think that’s the grown-up approach: why would you walk away if you could see in days or weeks a deal could be done if you just needed a bit more time? But, how much more time?

JH: Well, what I’ve said is that, at the end of September –

AN: No, I’ve got that.

JH: Yeah, you - no, good, well, at the end of September we - no, no –

AN: We’re now at the end of October.

JH: Yeah.

AN: And you think a deal could be done so you extend the deadline. By how much would you be prepared to go?

JH: So if we have a deal by the end of September and it takes a little bit more than a month to get through Parliament, then –

AN: You won’t have a deal by the end of September, Mr Hunt.

JH: Well, I believe we can.

AN: Really?

JH: I - I believe we can and I - as I say, I think that people like Angela Merkel want to solve this problem. If we have a deal, if it’s clear to us and to the Europeans there’s a deal to be done, then of course I would go for that and if it took a little bit - you know, a few extra days - to get it through Parliament…

AN: Just a few extra days?

JH: Well, I think in that situation Parliament will be willing to sit at weekends, will be willing to sit late, to do this, but I think it may take a few extra days and I would be willing to allow those days, yes.

AN: So you go through October the 31st - I’m not arguing with that for the purpose of this interview - but can you give us some kind of commitment as to how or when, under you, we’d be out? Would we - would it be days or weeks? Or months?

JH: Well it’s not going to be months, Andrew.

AN: OK. Would we be gone by Christmas?

JH: As I say I’m not going to give you those commitments because I think –

AN: Why?

JH: Because getting stuff through Parliament – listen, I’ll tell you why. It’s because Prime Ministers should only make promises they know they can deliver. And there’s another reason why we have to be careful about this 31st of October date. It is because Parliament may try and take a no deal Brexit off the table altogether and so I think - my commitment is that I think I’m the best person to get a deal and if we get a deal it will be on or around the 31st of October but I can’t control what Parliament does and that’s why I’m being honest with people about the difficulties.

AN: Well look, Mr Hunt, if it’s on - if it’s on or around the 31st, it has to be before Christmas.

JH: I would expect so, yes.

AN: Expect so, but you cannot say for sure. Is there any chance we could still go in to 2020 and still be a member of the EU?

JH: I don’t believe so, no.

AN: But you don’t rule it out?

JH: I don’t believe that would be the case because if you look –

AN: You don’t - this is why people don’t really trust you on this. They don’t see that you - it could linger on and on and on as it has under Theresa May.

JH: What people get with me is a Prime Minister who will get them out of the EU more quickly than the alternative –

AN: You just can’t tell us when.

JH: Because I’m being honest with people. This is a negotiation. I don’t control the parliamentary timetable and what would you rather, Andrew, because –

AN: Just a straight answer.

JH: I am, that’s what I’m giving you. But –

AN: Well you haven’t because you can’t tell us when we’d be out come rain or high water.

JH: But a straight answer is not giving a date that you can’t deliver.

AN: All right.

JH: And what has just happened in this country, we have had a big betrayal of trust because we had a Prime Minister who, with the best of intentions, made a promise we would leave by the end of March.

AN: All right.

JH: She didn’t deliver that. I’m not gonna make that mistake. I am saying this: if you want to leave the EU quickly, if you want to avoid a general election, which is the risk if you go about this in the wrong way, I’m the person who has the biggest chance of negotiating that deal and getting us out by October the 31st.

AN: You’ve made a raft of expensive promises to increase spending and cut taxes in this Tory campaign. Do these promises stand whether we leave with deal or no deal?

JH: The business tax cuts, the corporation tax does. Because that is preparation for no deal; we should do that whether or not we leave with a deal. But the other spending commitments, for example the defence spending pledge, that - some of the things I’ve been talking about this morning –

AN: That would need a deal?

JHHHd: That would take longer in a no deal situation.

AN: So you would take half of the current Chancellor’s head room. You would take about half of that to cut taxes for business. This is his fighting fund for no deal and you’re gonna spend 50% of that, slashing taxes on business, on businesses who’ve already had major cuts on taxes. That’s your plan?

JH: Correct. And let me tell you why. First of all, because in a no deal situation you will have a shock to the economy with the imposition of tariffs and this is a good way to give businesses more headroom to deal with those changes. But secondly, this is I think the nub of the argument that I’m making. I want to fire up businesses, to get young people starting their own businesses just as I started my own business and I accept that a cut in corporation tax isn’t the most popular tax cut, but what it does, if you look at what President Trump did in America, he cut business taxes and it increased the American growth rate. It’s now growing at about twice our rate, about 3% compared to our 1½%. If we did that in this country we would have an extra 20 billion pounds to spend on precious public services and further tax cuts and that is the heart of our success as a country will be to fire up the economy.

AN: Mr Trump’s corporation tax cuts was only a small part of an overall fiscal package which has increased the deficit by two trillion dollars in America and has given them a deficit of 5% of GDP. The corporation tax cuts were small in that huge stimulus. Is that your plan in Britain? To get a bigger and bigger deficit, as in America?

JH: Well, our context, of course, is different, but it’s different in two ways. First of all my corporation tax cuts are much more radical than anything President Trump did. To bring those corporation tax rates down to 12½%, one of the very lowest in the world, as low as the levels in Ireland. And incidentally, when Ireland did those cuts, they had a GDP per head that was lower than ours. Now it’s nearly 50% higher.

AN: Yeah, you can’t link the two. That’s absurd that the two are the same. It may have played a part. The fact is, Mr Hunt, we’ve had a bigger cut in corporation tax on business under your government in the past ten years. It hasn’t turbocharged the economy; we’ve had the slowest recovery in history. Where was the turbocharge?

JH: A thousand jobs created every single day that we’ve been in office, an economy that was –

AN: You just said growth isn’t fast enough.

JH: Let me answer the question, Andrew. We have had - we faced the worst financial recession since the Second World War; we’ve turned around the economy. That is why, by the way, I was able to secure the biggest ever funding increase in history for the NHS.

AN: Well, I’m gonna come onto that.

JH: And I want the NHS to be brilliant, but I could only do that because we turned around the economy.

AN: Can you tell me one major business that’s told you that UK corporation tax is the biggest problem facing it?

JH: Well, businesses welcome business tax cuts.

AN: Well, they always do that. But can you tell me any business that has asked – said to you you really need to cut corporation tax?

JH: I’m not doing this because businesses have asked me. I’m doing this because it’s going to grow our economy and put us in a strong shape to deal with a no deal Brexit.

AN: Except it hasn’t so far. Can you tell me any businesses asking you to do this?

JH: I – businesses say that if you do – businesses – hang on, Andrew, if you don’t mind letting me answer the question –

AM: Just give me a yes.

JH: Yes, I’m telling you that businesses ask for business tax cuts. My business tax cuts package includes corporation tax, increases in the capital allowances that will boost our productivity, taking 90% of high street businesses out of business rates. Some of these are more popularl; some of them are not particularly top of people’s lists. Take them together and you get what you were talking about with President Trump. You get a package of tax cuts –

AN: You used –

JH: That will turbo-charge our economy –

AN: Well, you keep on saying turbo-charge which is a meaningless phrase. It didn’t do it in America; it hasn’t done it in Britain. But here’s the real issue.

JH: Andrew, let me answer – it did do it in America.

AN: No, what I’m saying (talking over) what I’m saying – what I’m saying to you is that that was only a part of a much bigger package. (talking over)

JH:  My corporation tax is part of a bigger package.

AN: No, it’s – well, actually it isn’t. You’re only going to spend 13 billion in no deal tax cuts. That’s all on corporation tax. But –

JH: But the media’s criticising me saying that was too much.

AN: Let me ask you this –

JH: This is tge biggest package of business tax cuts that we’ve had in living memory. It’s the big thing to do.

AN: (talking over) But here’s the point, Mr Hunt. If there is no deal, the people that will really need help will not be businesses, though they need – need help too. It’ll be those on low incomes. Because if the pound plummets food prices are going to go up, fuel prices are going to go up. Those on low incomes will start to struggle. And yet you are going to spend 13 billion on a business tax cut, and nothing for them.

JH: What do people on low incomes need? They need jobs. What is my – what is my package for a no deal Brexit? It is corporation tax cuts so that businesses carry on employing people. It’s six billion pounds for our farmers and our fishing community so that they don’t have to lay people off in a hurry; they can change their business models. This is support for businesses so that they can carry on supporting individuals and families.

AN: So you’re got your 13 billion for business; you’ve got six  billion for farmers and fishing, which is two per cent of our economy. What are you going to do for the other 98 per cent of the economy under no deal?

JH: Well, I think we’ve just been talking about the business tax cuts that will help businesses up and down the country.

AN: And that’s it?

JH: Well, this is a 20 billion pound package to help businesses, whether a no deal Brexit is certain. No one else has announced a package anything like this. This is a very, very large package, and there’ll be other things that we’re doing, other measures that the government will be doing to prepare for a no deal Brexit. My point is this: the way you deal with a shock like this to the economy is to prepare, is to have a plan, then we can avoid that impact on people with low incomes, which of course has to be our first priority.

AN: And as you find this extra money, as you borrow it and you cut taxes and you spend more here, there and apparently now everywhere, will you still stick to the existing fiscal rules that constrain spending?

JH: Well, what I’ve announced in terms of my tax cuts and spending plans sit within Philip Hammond’s fiscal – they sit within the headroom that we have. I’ve been very clear that things that I think we need to do to walk tall in the world, like support our royal navy, invest in our defence, they would take longer to do in a no deal situation.

AN: So they couldn’t be done at the moment within the fiscal rules.

JH: Not if we had a no deal situation.

AN: (talking over) So taking people out of national insurance can’t be done within the existing rules.

JH: Not if we had a no deal Brexit. It would take longer to do, correct.

AN: A lot more money for social care couldn’t be done within the fiscal rules.

JH: It would take longer to deliver those promises in a no deal situation, correct.

AN: Let me turn to health. You were the longest-serving Health Secretary. You said, “I walked around hospitals in the NHS where I’ve known they need more money, and I hadn’t been able to give it to them.” Why did you tolerate this underfunding for so long?

JH: I didn’t. I spent my time as Health Secretary - look, let me be clear about the NHS. I’ve three kids that were born on the NHS; my father was looked after till the end by brilliant NHS care. But we have a big problem of capacity with the aging population, so after I’d been in the job for two years I secured an extra eight billion a year ahead of the 2015 general election. I then went on to secure an extra 20 billion pounds a year, a huge increase –

AN: But the rate of increase is still lower than the post-war average under you.

JH: The increase that I secured was the biggest single –

AN: It’s the lowest average annual increase. Lower than any other government in modern times.

JH: Andrew, you’re playing with statistics. It is true –

AN: Because they’re accurate.

JH: No, they’re not actually, because my increase was the biggest ever. But yes, you’re right, we had a period of austerity from 2010, where we had that financial crisis and we weren’t able to increase it by as much as we wanted to. But then I managed to get that increase and that was because of those difficult decisions that we’d taken.