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I will deliver Brexit sooner than Johnson, insists Hunt

Claim: Jeremy Hunt
Claim: Jeremy Hunt

By Richard Wheeler

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has claimed he would deliver Brexit sooner than rival Boris Johnson.

On BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt suggested he would be prepared to pursue "with a heavy heart" a no-deal Brexit despite the risks to business and said some of his spending pledges would be delayed as a result - although he would push on with a corporation tax cut. Mr Hunt sought to maintain a tough-sounding approach to Brexit, including a warning he could refuse to pay part of Britain's £39n exit bill to the EU if negotiations fail, while repeating that he believes he can secure a deal.

Mr Hunt said it was a "fake debate" when asked if the UK will definitely leave the EU this year.

He said: "If we got to the end of October and we've got a deal and we're trying to get it through Parliament but we need a few more parliamentary days, I'm not going to rip up that deal - Boris is.

"At the beginning of October if there is no prospect of a deal that can get through Parliament then I will leave at the end of October because that is our democratic promise to the British people."

Pressed further on the date of the UK's departure from the EU, Mr Hunt said: "I believe we'll leave sooner with me than with Boris or anyone else because I am the person most likely to negotiate a deal - and that is the quickest way to leave.

"What you're saying is something that's a dilemma. Parliament is trying to stop a no-deal Brexit, they succeeded before, they may succeed again - that is an issue that will face any prime minister, whatever they've said about October 31."

Mr Hunt, questioned if he would look people in the eye and tell them they should be prepared to lose their job as he will pursue a no-deal Brexit, replied: "I'd do so but I'd do it with a heavy heart precisely because of the risks."

Mr Hunt also said he wants an "international" team to negotiate the UK's trade deal post-Brexit, with discussions taking place with Canadian former prime minister Stephen Harper. Mr Harper, writing on Twitter, said he would be "willing to assist whoever serves as the next leader of the UK Conservative Party on trade matters, should they wish".

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