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Jeremy Hunt warns of Scottish nationalist threat in veiled swipe at Boris

Boris Johnson today insisted the chance of No Deal happening is ‘a million to one’ – as he warned a true Brexiteer must take charge of talks with the EU.

The Tory front runner told a hustings event that the UK was incredibly unlikely to crash out of the bloc despite his tough plans.

And he said the next PM should be someone who ‘believes in the project’ of Brexit – in a pointed dig at rival Jeremy Hunt who campaigned for Remain in the referendum three years ago. 

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt – who was endorsed by Scottish conservative leader Ruth Davidson earlier – delivered his own thinly-veiled attack by warning of the growing threat to the United Kingdom. 

After a poll found Mr Johnson in Downing Street would make Scots more likely to vote for independence, Mr Hunt vowed that as premier he would ‘never’ put the union at risk.

He also rebuked Mr Johnson’s allies for suggesting Britain would be able to waive tariffs on EU goods if there is No Deal – saying that would only be possible under international law if both sides agreed.  

Boris Johnson told a hustings event tonight that the UK was incredibly unlikely to crash out of the bloc despite his tough plans

Jeremy Hunt vowed he would ‘never’ put the union at risk as he took to the stage for the latest Tory hustings

Mr Hunt was endorsed by Scottish conservative leader Ruth Davidson earlier - and she also sniped at Mr Johnson for not putting the Union first

Mr Hunt was endorsed by Scottish conservative leader Ruth Davidson earlier – and she also sniped at Mr Johnson for not putting the Union first

Nicola Sturgeon seized on a new survey on Sunday that found Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) taking charge at Downing Street could boost support for independence

Nicola Sturgeon seized on a new survey on Sunday that found Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) taking charge at Downing Street could boost support for independence

The two Tory rivals were trading blows in a ‘digital’ hustings event in London tonight.

They each delivered a short stump speech, before taking questions posed on social media. 

Mr Johnson repeated his pledge to leave the EU by October 31 with or without a deal. 

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out suspending Parliament for No Deal 

Boris Johnson today refused to rule out suspending Parliament to prevent MPs blocking No Deal.

The Tory front runner played down the prospect of the constitutionally explosive move. 

He said he believed progress could be made without resorting to such measures as politics had ‘changed’.

‘I think the first thing is to recognise that politics has changed since March 29,’ Mr Johnson said. 

‘I think that colleagues do see that we are facing, not just the Tory Party but also Labour, we are facing an existential threat. 

‘We all need to get this thing done and we need to move forward and that’s why I think they will want to get Brexit over the line on October 31 and then move forward.  

Mr Johnson also dismissed the prospect of cancelling Parliament’s summer holidays, suggesting the Houses were not capable of solving the impasse anyway.  

Asked how he could guarantee to keep that schedule in the face of vehement opposition from Parliament, Mr Johnson said he believed British politics had been ‘changed’ by the pincer movement the Tories and Labour were suffering from the Brexit Party and Lib Dems. 

‘We need to come out of the European Union on October 31 and get it done,’ he said. 

‘We need somebody who believes in that project, who has campaigned on that project for many years and who knows how to get a good deal out of Brussels.’ 

He added: ‘It is absolutely vital that we prepare for a no-deal Brexit if we are going to get a deal. 

‘I don’t think that is where we are going to end up – I think it is a million-to-one against – but it is vital that we prepare.’ 

Mr Johnson played down the idea of suspending the Commons to prevent MPs blocking No Deal – although he again refused categorically to rule out the constitutionally explosive move.  

‘I think the first thing is to recognise that politics has changed since March 29,’ he said. 

‘I think that colleagues do see that we are facing, not just the Tory Party but also Labour, we are facing an existential threat. 

‘We all need to get this thing done and we need to move forward and that’s why I think they will want to get Brexit over the line on October 31 and then move forward. 

‘And when that election comes eventually, I remind you that I think we need to be ready to wallop Corbyn for six.’ 

Mr Johnson also dismissed the prospect of cancelling Parliament’s summer holidays, suggesting the Houses were not capable of solving the impasse anyway. 

‘I think we can get this thing done without having to resort to such a desperate expedient,’ he said. 

‘I am not necessarily convinced that Parliament can sort out the problem that Parliament has helped to create. 

‘Perhaps more sittings of Parliament is not what we want.’ 

While stressing he was willing to make a clean break from Brussels if it would not drop the Irish border ‘backstop’ demands, Mr Johnson said the chance of No Deal was ‘a million to one’.

Fox joins assault on Boris Johnson’s Brexit ‘Plan B’ 

Liam Fox attacked Boris Johnson’s Brexit ‘Plan B’, dismissing the idea that the UK could waive tariffs on EU goods after a No Deal split.

The Trade Secretary, a prominent Brexiteer and supporter of Jeremy Hunt, demanded that the contenders in the race to succeed Theresa May stick to ‘facts rather than supposition’.

But allies of Mr Johnson responded angrily as they accused Dr Fox of ‘ludicrously tilting at windmills’ as Tory Eurosceptics turned their fire on each other as the battle for the keys to Number 10 heated up. 

EU sources immediately dismissed Mr Johnson’s ‘Plan B’, describing it as ‘bullsh**’ and insisting that the two sides had ‘been here before’. 

Mr Johnson has vowed that he will take the UK out of the EU by Halloween ‘come what may’, describing the situation as ‘do or die’.

However, with Brussels having repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the current deal – Mr Johnson’s ‘Plan A’ – attention has turned to his ‘Plan B’.

Mr Johnson yesterday suggested his back up plan would be seek a ‘standstill’ arrangement with the EU to enable trade to continue until such a point as the terms of a final future relationship have been hammered out.

He 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 appeared to reject the plan as he said the EU would have to agree to it – something he claimed was extremely unlikely.

‘We need someone who believes in that project, who has campaigned on that project’ he said.  

Highlighting the ‘close shave’ in the 2014 independence referendum, Mr Hunt complained that supporters of the union had rested on their laurels before and after the vote.

‘I will never allow our union to be broken up,’ he told the digital hustings event. ‘Never, never, never.’ 

He added: ‘I think we were complacent before the 2014 independence referendum.

‘We had what felt like a close shave. And I think we have been complacent after.’

Mr Johnson insisted Scotland would be less likely to vote for independence after Brexit because of the ‘complexity’ of the nation being in the EU while England, Wales and Northern Ireland were not.   

He added: ‘Get Brexit right and we can cement and intensify the union.’  

The comments came after Mr Hunt visited Scotland at the weekend and insisted he would sacrifice Brexit to protect the union if absolutely necessary. 

Nicola Sturgeon seized on a new survey on Sunday that found Mr Johnson taking charge at Downing Street could boost support for independence.

A narrow majority of 51 per cent Scots would currently vote no to splitting from the rest of the UK, according to the research.

But when people were asked for their intentions if Mr Johnson becomes premier, the proportion against dropped to 47 per cent.   

Mr Johnson has been a hate figure for the SNP for years – with the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford branding him a ‘racist’ in Parliament only last week. 

He has been accused of dismissing Scots as a ‘verminous race’ when he edited the Spectator, although the jibe actually came in a satirical poem written by someone else.

Mr Hunt tried to capitalise on the poll yesterday as he visited Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, saying he was the PM Miss Sturgeon ‘feared most’.

He made clear he would always prioritise the union over Brexit. 

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme yesterday, Miss Sturgeon said of Mr Johnson: ‘He will be devastating, disastrous for the Conservatives UK-wide.’ 

She said: ‘Brexit has damaged the UK’s international reputation but close behind that, Boris Johnson’s tenure has damaged the UK’s reputation…

‘I find it quite hard to get my head around that knowing everything they know about him, they are contemplating putting him in No10.’ 

Ms Sturgeon added: ‘I’m more confident than I’ve ever been that Scotland will become an independent European nation.’ 

Earlier today, Liam Fox attacked Mr Johnson’s Brexit ‘Plan B’, dismissing the idea that the UK could waive tariffs on EU goods after a No Deal split.

The position has been seemingly advocated by Mr Johnson as a fall back option in the event the two sides cannot strike an overall agreement.

Dr Fox, a prominent Brexiteer and supporter of Mr Hunt, demanded that the contenders in the race to succeed Theresa May stick to ‘facts rather than supposition’.

But allies of Mr Johnson responded angrily as they accused Dr Fox of ‘ludicrously tilting at windmills’ as Tory Eurosceptics turned their fire on each other as the battle for the keys to Number 10 heated up. 

EU sources immediately dismissed Mr Johnson’s ‘Plan B’, describing it as ‘bullsh**’ and insisting that the two sides had ‘been here before’. 

Mr Johnson has vowed that he will take the UK out of the EU by Halloween ‘come what may’, describing the situation as ‘do or die’.

However, with Brussels having repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the current deal – Mr Johnson’s ‘Plan A’ – attention has turned to his ‘Plan B’.

Mr Johnson yesterday suggested his back up plan would be seek a ‘standstill’ arrangement with the EU to enable trade to continue until such a point as the terms of a final future relationship have been hammered out.

He 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 appeared to reject the plan as he said the EU would have to agree to it – something he claimed was extremely unlikely.

A Panelbase poll at the weekend found Mr Johnson taking charge at Downing Street could put the union at risk as Scots would be more likely to vote in favour of independence

A Panelbase poll at the weekend found Mr Johnson taking charge at Downing Street could put the union at risk as Scots would be more likely to vote in favour of independence

 

 

 

 

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