Jeremy Hunt has backed, and then immediately U-turned, on fox hunting, and it goes without saying that people are very confused.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, the foreign secretary said he'd back a free vote on repealing the ban on fox hunting if he was prime minister, appearing to echo a repeated Tory manifesto pledge stretching back to 2005, but was quickly dropped.
Speaking to the publication, he said that as soon as there was a majority in parliament:
...that would be likely to repeal the fox hunting ban - then I would support a vote in parliament.
While he doesn't hunt himself, he said:
I would vote to repeal the ban on fox hunting. It is part of the countryside.
We have to recognise that in terms of the balance of the countryside. You know, it’s part of our heritage.
However, on Thursday morning, he was forced into a humiliating U-turn when he was interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 by Mishal Hussain. Speaking on the show, he said:
This is not something I will seek to change as prime minister.
The Tory leadership hopeful and foreign secretary backtracked after his proposal to reverse the ban was met with a cascade of criticism, however he failed to say whether he thought that fox hunting was cruel four times.
Interviewer Mishal Husain told him that the practice involved 'wild animals being chased to the point of exhaustion, set upon by dogs for sport', and then asked him if it was 'cruel', to which Mr Hunt responded:
My view is a matter of public record. But what matters now are the things I want to change as Prime Minister.
Asked a second time, he again responded:
My view is a matter of public record.
He proceeded to obfuscate a third time, too, and on the fourth attempt, Mr Hunt said:
I have never hunted and it's not my thing but the way I voted is a matter of public record.
Needless to say, the hashtag #keeptheban soon began to trend.
Others picked up on his humiliating U-turn.
The ban on hunting foxes and other wild mammals with dogs was introduced in 2004 under Tony Blair's government.
In 2017, the loss of the Conservative majority was blamed on Mrs May's pledge to allow a free vote on repealing fox hunting. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Hunt said he'd simply been:
...restating the position in our manifesto from 2017.
But it wouldn’t be my priority as prime minister.
We are going to have Brexit, we have got the social care system, we have got huge economic priorities that are going to have to be addressed.