Boris Johnson will simply steamroller attempts by MPs to block a No Deal Brexit, his allies said today, as a new poll suggested Britain wants to leave the EU more than ever.
Dominic Raab, the leading supporter of the Tory frontrunner, insisted any vote by Remainer MPs to try to take No Deal off the table would have ‘zero legal effect’.
His comments are likely to spark a furious row with those in the House of Commons who have vowed to do everything they can to stop a disorderly divorce from the bloc.
It came as a furious row erupted between Liam Fox and supporters of Mr Johnson after the International Trade Secretary attacked the Tory leadership favourite’s Brexit ‘Plan B’.
Dr Fox dismissed the idea that the UK could waive tariffs on EU goods after a No Deal split – a position seemingly advocated by Mr Johnson – as the former foreign secretary’s allies hit back and accused the Cabinet minister of ‘ludicrously tilting at windmills’.
Meanwhile, a YouGov survey of more than 1,600 people will have been taken by Team Johnson as evidence that he was correct yesterday to categorically rule out a further Brexit delay beyond October 31.
The poll found a majority of voters still want to leave the EU and almost a third back a No Deal split.
Some 28 per cent of the electorate is in favour of a No Deal divorce from Brussels, 13 per cent support a split on the terms secured by Theresa May while 16 per cent want a softer Brexit.
The poll, conducted for The Times, suggests that some form of Brexit is favoured by 57 per cent of voters. That proportion is higher than the 52 per cent in the 2016 referendum, although that question was a straight choice between Leave and Remain.
Some 43 per cent of people want Britain to continue with its membership of the EU in the latest poll.
A YouGov survey of more than 1,600 people revealed that some 28 per cent of the electorate is in favour of a No Deal divorce from Brussels
Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) said he would deliver Brexit by October 31 ‘do or die’ as he categorically ruled out a further delay to the UK’s departure from the EU
But Jeremy Hunt (pictured campaigning in Chelmsford today) has suggested he would consider another Brexit delay if more time was needed to agree a deal with the EU
The question of whether MPs will be able to stop a No Deal Brexit has become increasingly important in recent days after Mr Johnson said he would take the UK out of the bloc by Halloween ‘do or die’.
His challenger in the battle for Number 10, Jeremy Hunt, has suggested he would agree to another extension if more time was needed to secure a deal.
Mr Raab, the former Brexit secretary who was ousted from the Tory leadership race early on and now backs Mr Johnson, today suggested Parliament could be ignored if it tried to thwart No Deal.
‘If there is a motion passed by MPs which says ‘uh-uh’, it would have zero legal effect,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Raab said it would now be ‘far harder’ for MPs to use ‘wrecking tactics’ to block a No Deal.
‘A prime minister that is resolute about this – Boris has been, Jeremy hasn’t – can get us out,’ Mr Raab told LBC.
‘More importantly, by being clear we leave at the end of October we increase our negotiating position and our strength, our leverage, to get the deal that would be acceptable to our country.’
He suggested Mr Hunt’s willingness to seek an extension could open the door to a second referendum.
He said: ‘This is the question for Jeremy Hunt, if he thinks October is a fake deadline… how long will this paralysis go on for and what conditions would you accept for an extension?’
The former foreign secretary, pictured today in Parliament after meeting with President of Iraq Barham Salih, has been more visible since Iain Duncan Smith was put in charge of his campaign yesterday
Mr Raab swung in behind Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race after he was eliminated. The pair are pictured together on the campaign trail yesterday
Mr Hunt rejected a challenge set out by Mr Johnson in an open letter to commit to taking Britain out of the EU on October 31 ‘come what may’.
The Foreign Secretary said: ‘I think that 31 October come hell or high water is a fake deadline, because it’s more likely to trip us into a general election before we’ve delivered Brexit, and that would hand the keys to Jeremy Corbyn and then we’d have no Brexit at all.’
Mr Hunt’s campaign was given a boost as Rory Stewart, another former leadership candidate, confirmed he was backing him to be the next PM.
It came as other allies of Mr Johnson vented their fury at International Trade Secretary Liam Fox after he slapped down the former foreign secretary over his claim that Britain could use international trade rules to continue tariff-free trade with the EU in the event of No Deal.
Mr Johnson has argued that a provision under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – known as Gatt 24 – could be used to avoid tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules for up to 10 years.
But Dr Fox, a Brexiteer who is backing Mr Hunt for the Tory leadership, said that would require the agreement of the EU, which Brussels has ruled out.
He said it was essential that the public debate on the issue was conducted ‘on the basis of fact rather than supposition’.
But Steve Baker, a supporter of Mr Johnson, shot back on Twitter: ‘By stating the obvious, by repeating common ground as if there were any disagreement, Liam is ludicrously tilting at windmills.
‘He’s done much to promote trade and freedom but I couldn’t be more disappointed in him here.’
Meanwhile, another YouGov poll has the Conservative Party and The Brexit Party neck and neck.
Both parties were backed by 22 per cent of voters when they were asked who they would vote for at a general election.
Labour was preferred by 20 per cent of voters, just one per cent ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 19 per cent.
The Westminster voting intention poll appears to highlight the importance of Brexit to both of the main parties.
Tories believe that if they are able to deliver Brexit by the current October 31 deadline then they will be able to win back many of the Eurosceptic voters who have jumped ship to support Nigel Farage’s party.
Many in Labour believe that if they adopt an unambiguous pro-Remain stance they will be able to persuade Europhile voters disaffected by the party’s current position to ditch the resurgent Lib Dems who have won support with their ‘Stop Brexit’ pledge.
A failure by the Tories to deliver Brexit and a failure by Labour to clarify whether it wants to leave or remain will put both parties on course for devastating losses at a potential snap general election.
Many in Westminster believe an early general election is possible if Theresa May’s successor fails to secure a better deal from the EU and Parliament again moves to block No Deal.
A separate poll published yesterday found 59 per cent of Tory members believe the new PM should try to renegotiate the current deal but if agreement isn’t reached take the UK out of the bloc without a deal in October.
Some 24 per cent of the Tory grassroots said they would prefer the next leader to stop negotiations and focus on preparing for No Deal.
Just six per cent of Conservative Party members believe the next PM should seek to renegotiate and seek a further Brexit delay if a deal is not agreed by Halloween.
Meanwhile, Brussels is engaged in an extraordinary war of words with Mr Johnson over his Brexit plans – accusing him of talking ‘bullsh**’ and going over old ground.
The Tory front runner has dramatically ramped up the rhetoric vowing to face down the EU and leave without a deal if it will not bend.
He insisted there should be a ‘standstill’ agreement on trade terms in the divorce package, with the Irish border issue being sorted out after the UK legally leaves.
EU sources immediately dismissed the ideas, saying the two sides had ‘been here before’ but Mr Raab warned: ‘If we end up on WTO terms, it will be the EU’s choice.’
Nigel Farage (pictured yesterday at Lord’s Cricket Ground) and his Brexit Party are tied at the top of the polls with the Tories despite the fact it is only a matter of months old.
Doesn’t Boris wash his SOCKS? Johnson is spotted repeatedly wearing the same £5.99 ‘King of the World’ British museum hosiery
Boris Johnson has been pictured wearing the same pair of socks on three days in the last week.
The Tory leadership favourite was seen sporting the distinctive hosiery at a hustings event in Birmingham on Saturday.
He also wore identical footwear in footage of interviews on Monday night yesterday – raising questions about whether he has run out of clothes after being forced to flee the south east London flat where he has been living.
The £5.99 socks bought from the British Museum shop depict King Ashurbanipal, who was ruler of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson was seen sporting distinctive socks at a hustings event in Birmingham on Saturday
The socks were on show on Monday night when Mr Johnson was interviewed by the BBC
At the time of his reign between 669 and 631 BC, it was the largest empire in the world and stretched from Cyprus in the west to Iran in the east. Its capital Nineveh was the world’s largest city.
King Ashurbanipal called himself ‘king of the world’.
Mark Carney says Brexit business uncertainty is now HIGHER than ever but markets still believe a deal is more likely than No Deal
Brexit uncertainty among British businesses is now at a higher level than even before the old March 29 deadline for the UK to leave the EU, Mark Carney has claimed.
The Governor of the Bank of England told MPs today that ‘market expectations of No Deal have gone up in recent months’ and the ‘degree of uncertainty’ had risen as a result.
However, Mr Carney insisted financial markets still believed that a deal with the EU was ‘more likely’ than No Deal because both candidates in the race to succeed Theresa May have said their preference is to strike an agreement with Brussels.
But he warned that belief ‘could change’ in the coming months if Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt failed to deliver on their respective plans to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s divorce from the bloc.
Meanwhile, an apparent row between Mr Carney and Mr Johnson over whether the UK and the EU could strike a standstill agreement on trade if they are unable to agree to a new deal before October 31 appeared to be defused by the Governor.
Mr Johnson said yesterday that his Brexit ‘Plan B’ would be to seek a standstill arrangement with the bloc and claimed Mr Carney was ‘wrong in thinking that it’s not an option’.
But Mr Carney suggested that they were actually in agreement that such an arrangement would be possible as long as both Britain and Brussels agreed to it with a view to striking a free trade deal in the near future.