Boris Johnson faces big test in 30-minute BBC grilling after ANOTHER Cabinet minister threatens to revolt over No Deal Brexit – as it emerges only HALF of Tory members have voted
- Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been fighting for keys to Downing Street
- They will both be grilled by the BBC’s Andrew Neil later as contest heats up
- ConHome poll found Mr Johnson backed by 72 per cent of Tory party members
- It is understood that only half of eligible activists have cast their ballots so far
Boris Johnson is facing a major test in a 30-minute BBC grilling today – after another Cabinet minister threatened to revolt over No Deal Brexit.
The Tory front runner and rival Jeremy Hunt will submit themselves to examination by combative interviewer Andrew Neil in a special programme later.
Despite claims most Tory members intended to vote early, it also seems there is still plenty to play for in the contest. With just over a week to go, MailOnline understands only around half of eligible activists have cast their ballots so far.
Business Secretary Greg Clark today became the latest senior Conservative to signal he will join a mutiny over hard Brexit.
He warned No Deal – which Mr Johnson has said should happen in October if an agreement cannot be struck with the EU – would mean the loss of ‘many thousands’ of jobs.
Mr Johnson (pictured today in London) is the hot favourite in the Tory leadership contest
In an interview with Sky News, Business Secretary Greg Clark today became the latest senior Conservative to signal he will join a mutiny over hard Brexit
He said he would ‘strain every sinew to avoid that’ alongside colleagues.
The comments underline the challenge facing Mr Johnson if he tries to follow through on his solemn ‘do or die’ pledge made during the campaign.
Mr Hunt has taken a marginally softer stance by saying he would be willing to delay if a deal was in sight – and admitting that Parliament can probably block No Deal.
Speaking to Sky News today, Mr Clark said: ‘It’s evident that if you have the disruption that comes from a no-deal Brexit there will be people that will lose their jobs,’ he told Sky News.
‘It’s many thousands of jobs. Everyone knows that.’
Mr Clark cited evidence from businesses when challenged that some are claiming the UK could weather an exit on World Trade Organisation terms.
Rudd drops No Deal opposition – paving way to serve in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet
Amber Rudd today appeared to drop her opposition to No Deal Brexit – potentially paving the way to stay in a Boris Johnson Cabinet.
Mr Johnson has insisted if he becomes PM all ministers must be willing to sign up to leaving the bloc by Halloween ‘come what may’.
Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd, who has been backing Jeremy Hunt for Tory leader, has previously been seen as one of the strongest opponents of No Deal.
But in an interview with TalkRadio today she said: ‘Both candidates have said that no deal is part of the armory and the negotiations going forward.
‘And I have accepted that, um, that the situation is that we are leaving by the end of October.
‘But it would be so much better to get a deal.’
She added: ‘What we really need is for everybody’s effort to go into trying to get a deal and that as we know, isn’t as straight forward as we would like it to be because the prime minister has tried on several occasions to do that.’
‘I think every person that considers the evidence that companies have given – whether it’s in the automotive sector, whether it’s in the food sector, whether it’s in aerospace, in industries up and down the country – you know if you become less efficient and your ability to trade is impeded, then of course losing your competitiveness means there will be jobs lost,’ he said.
Mr Clark hinted strongly that he will vote against No Deal in Parliament.
‘I will do everything I can in whatever forum,’ he said.
Tension is building in the contest, but Mr Johnson appears to have a commanding lead.
A survey for the grassroots ConservativeHome website yesterday found 72 per cent also said they had either backed or planned to back Mr Johnson.
Mr Hunt has admitted he is the underdog in the contest to replace Theresa May, but vowed to fight to the end.
He mounted an all-out assault on Mr Johnson in a TV debate earlier this week as he desperate struggles to overhaul his advantage – mocking him for refusing to answer questions and questioning his ‘do or die’ pledge to force Brexit by the end of October.
However, the attacks do not seem to be making a significant dent in Mr Johnson’s popularity with members.
Mr Johnson was put on notice to expect a legal battle with former prime minister Sir John Major if he tries to suspend Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit.
Former Conservative leader Sir John said it would be ‘utterly and totally unacceptable’ for any British premier to shut down Parliament, and he would seek a judicial review if it happened.
Mr Johnson dismissed Sir John’s ‘very odd’ threat of being dragged through the courts, insisting that Parliament should accept its responsibility to deliver Brexit.
But he has refused to rule out proroguing Parliament to prevent MPs blocking a no-deal exit from the European Union on October 31.
In the ConHome survey, some 72 per cent also said they had either backed or planned to back Mr Johnson – suggesting he is on track for a landslide victory when the result is announced in two weeks’ time
Jeremy Hunt (pictured out running at hustings last night) has admitted he is the underdog in the contest to replace Theresa May, but vowed to fight to the end
How will the next few months of political drama play out?
Today: Leadership contenders put themselves under the microscope in separate TV interviews with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.
July 22: Ballot closes
July 23: The new Tory leader is announced
July 24: Changeover day. Theresa May takes her last PMQs in Commons, before heading to the Palace to quit.
The new Tory leader will follow her in to be asked to form a government.
July 25: Probable Cabinet reshuffle. Parliament is also due to rise today, sending MPs away on their summer holidays.
September 3: Parliament is due to return for two weeks, before the party conference season starts.
October 2: Tory conference wraps up with the new leader’s speech.
October 7: Parliament sits again.
October 31: The UK is due to leave the EU.