Hunt refuses to rule out delaying Brexit beyond October 31

Conservative leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has refused to rule out delaying Brexit beyond October 31 if he becomes the next prime minister.

Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby asked Hunt at a press conference today: “On October 31, if you haven’t got your deal, do you trigger a general election or do you delay?”

Hunt replied: “I will never take action to trigger a general election before delivering Brexit because that would be fatal to the Conservative party”.

 

The position is likely to win him some support within the parliamentary party who do not wish to see an early general election but places him firmly at odds with the Eurosceptic grassroots who wish to see Brexit delivered without further delay.

Hunt’s formal leadership announcement was supported by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and current Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt who had been rumoured to be considering running herself. Although a Leave voter, Mordaunt has remained within Theresa May’s Cabinet and voted three times for May’s contentious Withdrawal Agreement, pouring cold water over her credibility with a majority of the party members.

 

Hunt is the bookies second favourite to become the next prime minister after Boris Johnson who remains odds-on.

Nominations for leadership candidates must be submitted by 5pm today at which point the parliamentary leadership process begins in earnest.