Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson debate respective negotiation plans
The final two candidates in the Conservative party leadership race have outlined their different ideas on how the UK should leave the EU.
If successful in this race, the winner would become the new prime minister on 24 July.
Both Hunt and Johnson have said that they would renegotiate a Brexit deal, although the EU has denied this as an option.
Johnson has been firm in his stance that he would leave on 31 October, “deal or no deal”.
One of the cornerstones of his campaign has been challenging his opponent’s ability to make this same firm commitment
Hunt has instead described the October date as a “fake deadline” and suggested that a general election would be triggered if Parliament rejects a no-deal Brexit.
He has said he would be prepared to leave the EU without a deal, but not if there was the potential for securing a better deal.
In response, former Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, has described Hunt as showing “weakness” and “naivety” by discussing the possibility of a further extension.
Raab, who has been clear about his support of Johnson’s campaign, suggested that “flirting with an extension” undermines the negotiating leverage when it comes to EU discussions.
He also emphasised that the decision to grant an extension, or see the UK leave without a deal, remains with the EU.
On the other hand, International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, criticised Johnson’s claim that the UK could continue trading tariff-free with the EU in the event of a no-deal.
Fox has said that the EU would need to agree to the use of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – known as GATT 24 – which Johnson has suggested could be used to avoid tariffs for up to ten years.
Brussels, however, has made it clear that it would not approve GATT 24.
Rory Stewart, International Development Secretary and former leadership candidate, has said that Johnson is “pretending he has a magic solution,” when instead he is going to let people down with his suggestion that his plans won’t “damage them at all”.