Jeremy Hunt refuses to say whether Boris Johnson is an ‘honest man’
The ex-cabinet minister said he "very much" hoped the Prime Minister is the best person to lead the party into the next general election.
However, he did not rule out running in a future leadership contest, simply insisting now is not the “right moment”.
Mr Hunt came second to Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership race.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme whether Mr Johnson is “an honest man” in the wake of the partygate scandal, he said: “I think that talking about personalities is not a helpful thing to do.
“It’s a simple question but it’s not a helpful thing to do when I’ve just said that we need to recognise the international situation is very serious and we need strong leadership from the Prime Minister we have.”
Earlier, Mr Hunt was asked if the internal party rebellion against Mr Johnson had "fizzled out".
He said: "I have said many times that I don't rule out a return to frontline politics myself, but I don't think now is the right moment.
"Britain has been the most robust member of the Western alliance in the face of the first major war in Europe in our lifetimes and I think the only person who would rejoice if we had a hiatus of several months in the leadership in Britain would be Vladimir Putin.
"So I don't think this is the moment for those discussions."
Asked whether the Prime Minister is the best person to lead the Tory party into the next election, Mr Hunt answered: “I very much hope so."
He said he hoped Mr Johnson could “turn things around”.
He added: “I think the outcome of the next election will be decided not on personalities, but on which party has the best long-term plans.”
Mr Hunt said it would be a "mistake" to view the Tory's bruising local election results as simply "mid-term blues".
The Conservatives suffered significant losses at the council elections, with Mr Johnson admitting it was a “tough night in some parts of the country”.
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