Published: 04:38 EDT, 27 June 2019 | Updated: 06:52 EDT, 27 June 2019
Boris Johnson today insisted anyone who serves in his Cabinet must vow to force Brexit through by Halloween – as Remainers plot a new bid to block No Deal.
The Tory front runner has said cutting ties with the EU by October 31 will be ‘do or die’, and made clear every minister must be ‘reconciled’ to leaving without an agreement if necessary.
The stark warning came amid confusion over whether Mr Johnson would be willing to suspend Parliament in order to stop MPs blocking No Deal. Mr Johnson dodged when asked whether he would use the explosive tactic last night, but his close ally Liz Truss then insisted he had ruled it out.
The huge obstacles Mr Johnson faces have also been underlined by the emergence of another attempt by Remainers to take control of the process.
Boris Johnson (pictured in London today) made clear he would demand every minister is ‘reconciled’ to leaving the EU without an agreement if necessary
A group led by Tory former Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve is set to force a crunch vote next week on an amendment that would effectively bar the government from taking the UK out of the bloc without consent from the Commons.
Downing Street said the move would be ‘grossly irresponsible’. ‘Any attempt to deny vital funding to Whitehall departments would be grossly irresponsible and … this is government spending for this financial year and funds crucial areas like schools, housing and welfare,’ the spokeswoman said.
Mr Johnson and leadership rival Jeremy Hunt are both due to be on the Isle of Wight today, before taking part in another round of hustings in Bournemouth later.
In an interview with the ConservativeHome website today, Mr Johnson was pressed on whether every Cabinet member would need to be ‘committed to leaving on October 31, deal or no deal’.
Hunt speaks of losing baby sister in ‘terrible accident’ 50 years ago
On ITV’s Peston last night, Jeremy Hunt revealed his sister died when she was just a few months old and he was aged two
Jeremy Hunt has spoken for the first time about losing his baby sister in a ‘terrible accident’.
The Foreign Secretary revealed his sister died when she was just a few months old and he was aged two.
The terrible episode emerged as Mr Hunt, 52, was interviewed as part of the Tory leadership contest on ITV’s Peston programme last night.
An apparently taken aback Mr Hunt said: ‘Well I don’t talk about that normally, and I wouldn’t say it is something that’s affected me emotionally because she was only a few months old when she died in a terrible accident.
‘I was too young to ever remember it, but I do know it affected my parents.’
Presenter Robert Peston broke in: ‘It must have affected you, don’t you think? This is the kind of tragedy that has a profound effect on families?’
Mr Hunt replied: ‘I was only two years old so it’s not something I have any memories of.
‘Maybe when I met parents who lost children in the NHS… maybe that triggered something in me.’
Pressed on the details, Mr Hunt said: ‘I’d rather not if you don’t mind, Robert, it’s a very personal family thing.’
Mr Hunt is the elder son of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt, a former Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, and wife Meriel. He has a younger brother, Charlie and a surviving sister.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Yes, that will be the policy of the Government.’
Told that would exclude a range of senior Tories such as Business Secretary Greg Clark and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Mr Johnson said he was not aiming for No Deal.
‘I want obviously to have a broad range of talent in my Government, the Government that I will lead, but clearly people must be reconciled to the very, very, very small possibility, and I stress it will be a very, very small possibility, that we would have to leave on those terms,’ he said.
‘I don’t think it will happen but they would have to be reconciled to it.’
Mr Johnson repeatedly dodged when asked if he would seek an extension beyond October 31 if Parliament ordered him to do so.
He said: ‘The fact that we missed two deadlines has led to the growth, the puffball-like growth both of the Brexit Party, but also of the Liberal Democrats.
‘And they are feeding saprophytically, like puffballs, on the decay in trust in politics. That’s where they’re getting their strength from.
‘And they will continue to thrive until we get it done. And if we fail again, if we kick the can down the road on 31st October, if we continue to delay, if we treat this as a fake deadline, just yet another rigmarole, then I think the voters will be very frustrated indeed.
‘And I think that our party, the Conservative Party, which I fought for for a very long time across this country, I think that we will not easily recover.
‘So getting back to your point about Cabinet colleagues and the spirit of the party, where we all are, actually I think people understand that.
‘And I think they also understand, intellectually, that you have to keep no deal on the table.
‘Not only keep no deal on the table but you have to prepare for it actively and with confidence.’
Mr Grieve and Labour’s Margaret Beckett have tabled an amendment to the government’s estimates – which allocate money for departments and policies – that would effectively cut funding if a PM tries to railroad through Parliament without consent.
The measure could come to a vote on Tuesday – with the result looking to be on a knife edge.
‘The suggestion that we could or should be taken out of the EU without the consent of the House of Commons is fundamentally wrong, and frankly unconstitutional,’ Mr Grieve told The Sun.
Mr Johnson and leadership rival Jeremy Hunt (pictured at hustings in London last night) are both due to be on the Isle of Wight later, before taking part in another round of hustings in Bournemouth tonight