Andrea Leadsom insisted neither MPs nor the Commons Speaker can stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal at the end of October as she launched her bid to become the next prime minister.
In a swipe at rivals Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, the former Commons leader said a no-deal exit was the legal default position and that she did not believe Parliament had the ability to prevent the UK leaving.
She said Commons Speaker John Bercow did not have the power to block a no-deal Brexit.
Mrs Leadsom, who had a long-running feud with the Speaker in her role as Commons leader, said “it’s simply not the case that the Speaker has the means to stop a no-deal exit”.
She set out her plan for a “managed exit” and said leaving the EU on October 31 was, for her, a “hard, red line”.
Asked about her rivals’ claims that Parliament would block a no-deal, she said: “I do not believe that it’s possible for Parliament to prevent a no-deal exit – it’s the legal default position.
“And with a Government whose policy is to leave at the end of October in all circumstances, my view is that putting forward sensible measures that Parliament will agree to, and that I believe the EU will also find very sensible, that have already been agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement, I think that we will have success.”
The Tory leadership hopeful’s husband and daughter watched as she set out her stall in a speech to journalists and supporters at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster.
She said she had ambitions to become an MP from the age of 13 when, as a schoolgirl, she wanted to “save the world from a nuclear war”.
Mrs Leadsom said the country needs a leader “who will be decisive, who will get things done, but will also be compassionate”.
“Someone who will stand up for democracy, equality and fairness, giving every single one of our citizens the chance to fulfil their own aspirations.”
She continued: “Over the past three years politics has failed dismally – it has failed to deliver on the biggest democratic decision in our history.
“Fulfilling that democratic decision is urgent and vital, it cannot and will not be put off any longer.
“Leaving the EU on October 31 is for me a hard, red line.”
Over the past three years politics has failed dismally – it has failed to deliver on the biggest democratic decision in our historyAndrea Leadsom
Mrs Leadsom also said she would focus on “bringing the country back together and healing divisions” and listed her priorities as building new homes, cutting crime and promoting business.
Mrs Leadsom also promised to help the UK transform into a carbon neutral economy and said she would prioritise funding for schools and policing.
In reference to her quitting the leadership race in 2016 when she was against Theresa May in the final two, she said: “Of all candidates I am the one who will not be withdrawing under any circumstances.
“I think that we have tested that to destruction over the last three years.”
Asked about the lessons she learnt from the last campaign, Mrs Leadsom said: “First of all stay positive, stay true to yourself.
“Put your country ahead of yourself.
“And I’m just going to say, never say ‘as a mother’.”