Britain’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is the only candidate for the leadership of the Conservative party who has clearly come against the prospect of keeping a “no-deal” Brexit option on the table.
“Trying to deliver a no deal through a general election is not a solution; it is political suicide,” Hunt wrote in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph.
Hunt also explained that he wants a new deal that would include input from not only Scotland and Wales, but also Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, on whose support May’s government relies.
Michael Gove has been supportive of the Withdrawal Agreement advocated by Theresa May but has not ruled out a no-deal scenario. Tory hopefuls Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, and Esther McVey are campaigning on a more uncompromising ticket.
“Political suicide actually lies in not having a clean break from the EU and not leaving on the 31 October,” McVey responded on Twitter.
With the clock ticking to 31 October, when the UK is due to leave the EU, a victory by an uncompromising candidate would leave little space to explore the options of a second referendum, especially if the country goes to the polls.
Hunt has argued that going to the polls without delivering Brexit “would be absolutely catastrophic for us as a party” and risks the election of the first “Marxist prime minister” in the UK, in reference to Labour’s firebrand leftist leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Johnson has made clear that the UK should leave the EU “with or without” a deal, while the advocates of a so-called “clean break” often recall that leaving is the “default legal position.”
Hunt campaigned to Remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, unlike most Conservative candidates running to succeed May. The Conservative parliamentary group does not overall seem to have a clear majority in favour of a “no-deal” or a “clean break” scenario, although many party members seem to be supportive of the prospect.