The Foreign Secretary was responding to a question that came in the aftermath of a YouGov poll suggesting the majority of Conservative members want Brexit even if it means Scotland gaining independence. Asked if he would choose Brexit or the union, Mr Hunt said: “The union every time.” His comment came after he was condemned for his “snide” comment describing Leave voters as “little Englanders”.
When asked how he would unite the country after Brexit, he said: “Deliver a Brexit that works for the 48 per cent not just the 52 per cent – a positive, open and internationalist Brexit, Great Britain not Little England.”
Mr Johnson has written to Mr Hunt asking him whether he would commit to delivering Brexit as per the vote of 52 percent of Britons on October 31, the final of three deadlines.
He did not answer, and instead called Mr Johnson’s letter “snail mail”.
In the leadership contest Mr Johnson came out all guns blazing and pledged to “do or die” and take Britain out of the EU in four months’ time.
The leading Brexiteer threw down the gauntlet and challenged Mr Hunt in an open letter to commit to leaving on Halloween “come what may” and warned of the “devastating” consequences for the party if this did not happen.
However, Mr Hunt fresh from being snubbed by Mr Johnson for the Sky News debate, hit back and called it a “fake deadline” and maintained he is the man you can trust to deliver Brexit.
Brussels has dashed the hopes of Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt being able to re-negotiate the withdrawal agreement.
An EU official told Express.co.uk: “The withdrawal agreement will not be renegotiated and we definitely will not be negotiating a no-deal Brexit.”
Meanwhile huge divisions are showing on the Labour frontbench after Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally John McDonnell said the party’s Brexit strategy had been “like a car crashing in slow motion”.
The shadow chancellor has joined a growing list of senior Labour figures including deputy leader, Tom Watson and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry who are growing disillusioned at its dithering stance on Brexit.
8.10pm update: Britain ramps up no deal stockpile plans – despite Government insisting there is no need
is boosting no deal Brexit plans by hiring ferries to bring in life-saving medicines – despite the Government stressing there is no need for stockpiling.
Ministers have today revealed plans to get suppled into the UK in a 48-hour timeframe if Britain leaves the EU without a deal on the October 31 Halloween deadline, The Sun reports.
Deputy PM David Lidington said: “The Department of Health and Social Care is starting the process of setting up an express freight contingency arrangement to support continuity of supply of medicines and medical products.
“This will be an urgent contingency measure for products requiring urgent delivery, within a 24-48 hour timeframe, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.”
Ministers are also considering bringing in emergency planes with supplies if there is a delay to medicine supplies getting through busy ports.
But the Government told Britons there was no need to stockpile medicines their own homes.
Chief Commercial Officer at the Department of Health, Steve Oldfield suggested companies bulk up their stock for around six weeks, but just in case.
7.10pm update: Ken Clarke forced to backtrack on bold no deal Brexit claim – ‘EU have agreed’
Ken Clarke was forced to backtrack on his claim that no deal couldn’t happen after a Sky’s Adam Boulton made one simple point.
Mr Clarke made the claim that regardless of what Boris Johnson was saying, he nor Jeremy Hunt could take the UK out on a no deal Brexit.
He went on to say that the UK needed a trade agreement and a no deal Brexit simply wasn’t “possible”.
However, All Out Politics host Adam Boulton emphasised that both the EU and UK had been preparing for it and it was lawful that the UK could leave without a deal from the EU at which point Mr Clarke said a no deal Brexit was “technically” possible.
6.21pm update: Grayling seeks new freight services for no deal after last cancelled contracts cost £50m
Plans to find new freight services for essential supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit are under way after the last cancelled contracts cost an estimated £50million.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s department will seek a list of suppliers to provide freight capacity for critical supply chains “as and when required”, Cabinet Secretary David Lidington said on Wednesday.
Mr Lidington said the new agreement would not commit the Government to buying or reserving freight capacity, after the cost of the previous cancelled contracts.
Mr Grayling had awarded contracts worth a total of more than £100million to three firms to run extra services from ports to ease anticipated pressure on the Dover-Calais route.
But sailings went ahead even though feared disruption to essential supplies such as food and medicine did not materialise when the initial Brexit date of March 29 was postponed.
It was being made clear that lessons had been learned.
After a period of consultation and tender, it is understood that the Department for Transport’s new contracts with ferry or train operators will not be signed until closer to the dates that services are required to prevent unnecessary costs.
5.55pm update: Lib Dems back Labour’s Yvette Cooper or Hilary Benn in coalition with aim to cancel Brexit
Lib Dems leadership candidate Ed Davey has called on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to cancel Brexit – adding Yvette Cooper or Hilary Benn would be perfect for the job.
The Liberal Democrats contender said the party would back Yvette Cooper or Hilary Benn as head of a coalition government with the sole aim of blocking Brexit and ignoring the democratic votes of 52 percent of the nation.
Mr Davey told the Guardian the plan would “take some persuasion” but could force the Tory Party to vote down their own government.
He also said he had not spoken to Mr Benn and Ms Cooper about the plot, adding its aim would be to oversee a second referendum and then dissolve parliament for a general election.
Ms Cooper, who has made relentless efforts to stop a no deal Brexit, has never said she backs calls for a second referendum.
Mr Davey said the plan was an “extreme option” and that he had not figured out the numbers to support it.
4.30pm update: Boris serious about Brexit and will form new Government to achieve it by Oct 31
Boris Johnson is serious about taking Britain out of the EU on October 31 – and if he wins the Conservative Party leadership he will form a Government capable of doing just that, MP Steve Baker has said.
Mr Baker was speaking after an eventful few days for Mr Johnson which have seen him facing questions about his private life, as well as about how serious he is about taking Britain out of the EU by October 31.
A suggestion by Mr Johnson that the deadline was “eminently feasible” raised eyebrows in some quarters, with claims his words did not amount to a cast-iron guarantee.
However, Mr Baker scoffed at the suggestions.
3.50 update: Laura Kuenssberg hit with bias claims after Boris Johnson interview
Boris Johnson’s interview with Laura Kuenssberg has sparked a furious backlash on social media, with people condemning BBC News’ political editor for her “biased” and “unnecessarily haughty” line of questioning.
During the interview, she probed Mr Johnson on Brexit but rigidly stuck to a line of questioning on the drama of the weekend. But social media users reacted in anger to the interview, which was partly shown on Monday’s BBC Ten O’Clock News.
One wrote: “Is it a fair way to run an interviewee to fix on a question that is not been answered, until it is (hell freezing), the interviewer declares the question unanswered, or the interviewee walks.
“Paxman style? Or is more important to cover more ground. I feel the former.”
Another said on Twitter: “BBC Politics interview needed more rigorous questioning.
“Sadly, Laura came across unnecessarily haughty & with hearsay soundbites but lacking in fact to engage in repartee, such that Boris Johnson was able to give several two-minute soliloquies!”
2.15pm update: Bank of England chief warns no deal Brexit ‘worst way to resolve uncertainty’
Bank of England boss Mark Carney has warned a no deal Brexit with no transition period would be the ”worst way to resolve uncertainty” for businesses and markets.
The Bank’s governor told MPs the lack of any progress towards a deal and the extended Brexit deadline is leaving firms in limbo in terms of preparations and investment.
In a hearing with the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Carney said there has been a “notable increase” in market expectations of no deal.
He said this uncertainty in markets and among businesses is “affecting the short-term economic performance” in the UK.
1.40pm update: Varadkar dismisses idea Irish backstop can be replaced
Leo Varadkar has dismissed any suggestion the controversial Irish backstop could be replaced with “alternative arrangements”.
The Taoiseach stated any deal without the insurance policy of the backstop would result in a no deal Brexit.
Mr Varadkar said he could not accept the deletion of the backstop insurance mechanism from the Withdrawal Agreement unless it had been demonstrated how such arrangements would work in practice to ensure there are no customs checks on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland .
Mr Varadkar said: “We can’t accept that alternative arrangements are an alternative to a backstop unless we can see what these alternative arrangements are, know how they would work and see them demonstrated.
“That hasn’t been done yet and I don’t see that being done this side of October 31 which is why we certainly can’t accept the deletion of the backstop.”
He added: “For us, a deal without a backstop is effectively no deal because it means that there is no legal guarantee we won’t have a hard border, there is no operable mechanism by which we can avoid a hard border, it would just be a case of trying to pull it off, which I don’t think really is much of a solution.”
1.30pm update: Varadkar warns of the impact of no deal Brexit on the Irish economy
Leo Varadkar has warned Ireland’s fast growing economy could suddenly contract if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
Ireland’s economy is considered the most vulnerable among remaining EU members to Brexit and prompted the government to set out two budget strategies for 2020.
In those forecasts, Ireland’s finance ministry reiterated its view that gross domestic product growth would fall to anywhere between zero and 1 percent in 2020 in the event on no deal.
Mr Varadkar told an annual budgetary conference: “In a no-deal hard Brexit – in which case we won’t have to worry about the economy over-heating – it will slow down rapidly, even contract.”
1.00pm update: Hunt criticises Boris’ ‘do or die’ attitude towards Brexit deadline
Jeremy Hunt has hit out at Boris Johnson’s ‘do or die’ stance towards the October 31 Brexit deadline insisting the date was a “fake promise”.
The foreign Secretary stated his rival’s attitude risked further divisions and even a Jeremy Corbyn Government.
On Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show, he said: “The phrase maybe I should use is a fake promise.
“I think I am more likely to get us out of the EU by October 31 because I’m a negotiator, I’m an entrepreneur, I have got a business background and negotiation is what I did every day of the week.
“But if we do it in this kind of ‘do or die’ way, the risk is we will just trip into a general election because Parliament will stop it, as they did in March, and then we will have Corbyn in Downing Street and there’ll be no Brexit at all.”
12.20pm update: Blackford calls on May to condemn no deal Brexit
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, has urged Theresa May to condemn the prospect of on no deal Brexit at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Blackford also hit out at Boris Johnson, describing him as an “incompetent foreign secretary” who has “made a career out of lying”.
The SNP leader said: “Do or die, come what may, this are the words of the PM’s likely successor. The truth behind the Brexit chaos in the Tory party are encompassed in those words.
“The Tory dream is to drag us out of the EU no matter what the cost.
“Before you exit office will you ledge to never vote for a successor wiling to impose a devastating no deal Brexit on us?”
The Prime Minister hit back and pointed to the fact she voted three times to leave the EU with an agreement.
Mrs May said: “As PM I voted three time in this House to ensure that we could take the UK out of the EU with a deal that was good for the whole of the UK and he voted effectively for no deal.”
12.00pm update: Theresa May has chance to rubbish Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘car crash’ Brexit position
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head at Prime Minister’s Questions.
11.30am update: Pound weakens towards five-month low
The pound has edged back towards a five-month low as the prospect of a no deal Brexit increases.
Against the dollar, the pound slipped 0.2 percent lower at $1.2664, after reaching a five-month low of $1.2507 last week.
Versus the euro, the pound weakened to 89.69 pence.
The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May, Boris Johnson told the BBC he was “serious” about leading
Britain out of the EU on October 31.
Derek Halpenny, European head of global markets research at MUFG Bank in London said: “We are heading for a showdown – a no-deal Brexit; a general election; or a second referendum.”
He added: “The pound is set to come under renewed downward pressure over the coming weeks with no deal still very much under-priced.”
11.00am update: Brexit negotiator set to lead EU to settle Merkel-Macron row
Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is set to become the frontrunner in the race to replace Jean-Claude Juncker, Brussels sources today revealed.
The veteran eurocrat is set to become part of a “Franco-German deal” bringing an end to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron’s Brussels power struggle.
EU diplomats and officials have claimed Mr Barnier has the credibility to become the European Commission president at a tricky time in the bloc’s history.
German MEP Manfred Weber, the former frontrunner, was largely discarded by EU capitals for lacking the necessary experience to hold the bloc’s most senior role.
10.30am update: Raab rubbishes Remainer plot to bring down Government ‘zero legal effect!’
Dominic Raab has dismissed claims parliament could prevent a no deal Brexit stating the motion would have “zero legal effect”.
The former Brexit Secretary hit out at the suggestion made by Tory Remainer’s including Rory Stewart who today vowed to block Britain leaving without an agreement on October 31.
The leading Brexiteer questioned whether MPs would go ahead with the plot and insisted only the “vanishing few” would press forward with the “damaging step”
Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If there is a motion passed by MPs it will have zero legal effect”.
He added: “I think as we saw earlier on the show, people like Rory Stewart on top of Tobias Ellwood were backing away from that, saying of course they wont vote in a vote of no confidence to see Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister.
“The number will be vanishing few that would actually be willing to countenance such a damaging step. The biggest risk in all of this is that we don’t get Brexit done and dusted.”
10.00am update: Lammy slams Raab’s claim a no deal Brexit ends uncertainty – ‘Ludicrous!’
Arch-Remainer David Lammy has slammed comments made by Dominic Raab as “ludicrous” after the former Brexit Secretary claimed a no deal Brexit will end “uncertainty” for businesses.
Mr Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham wrote on Twitter: “Dominic Raab on #r4today claiming that a No-Deal Brexit will end the “uncertainty” for business.
“Ludicrous. The only certainties in this disaster scenario is that thousands lose their jobs and the new PM will be back at the EU negotiating table begging for a deal within days.”
9.35am update: Hunt in Twitter spat with Tory MP – ‘The fudge must end!’
Jeremy Hunt has been involved in a Twitter spat with a fellow Tory MP over his stance on Brexit.
The Tory leadership hopeful was heavily criticised by Ben Bradley MP for Mansfield for saying wants to deliver a Brexit for the 48 percent as well as the 52 percent who voted in the 2016 EU referendum.
Mr Bradley insisted no form of Brext would work for people who voted to remain and labelled Mr Hunt ‘Theresa May in trousers’.
He wrote on Twitter: “There is no such thing as a #Brexit that works for people who do not want Brexit. Government has been trying that for the last 3 years and look where its got us!! The fudge must end! #theresaintrousers.”
Mr Hunt then retaliated on the social media platform and stuck by his guns by attempting to unite both sides of the divided by pursuing an “outward-looking internationalist Brexit”.
Mr Hunt said: “Sorry Ben, I disagree. There has to be a Brexit that works for people like you who voted to remain, and those who have always wanted to leave.
“An outward-looking, internationalist Brexit that embraces the world around us. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
9.15am update: Labour Remainer’s plot to force Corbyn’s hand on Brexit
Remain supporting Labour MPs fronted by deputy leader Tom Watson will hold a meeting later today to pile the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to officially back a second referendum, according to ITV political editor Robert Peston.
A shadow Cabinet meeting failed to provide clarity on the party’s Brexit position after Mr Corbyn delayed a decision for a further two weeks.
Mr Peston wrote on Twitter: “I hear Labour remain-supporting MPs, coordinated by @tom_watson, will meet later today to determine their response to @jeremycorbyn’s failure to do what they thought he had promised to do, that is move to an unambiguous position of backing a referendum and remaining in EU.”
9.00am update: Raab warns Hunt will extend Brexit ‘paralysis’
Dominic Raab has challenged leadership contender Jeremy Hunt over his willingness to seek a Brexit extension, claiming it could open the door to a second referendum.
The former Brexit secretary who backs Boris Johnson, said Mr Hunt risks prolonging the Brexit “paralysis” if he is not committed to the October 31 deadline.
Mr Raab told the Today programme: “This is the question for Jeremy Hunt, if he thinks October is a fake deadline, is how long will this paralysis go on for and what conditions would you accept for an extension?
“For example, the EU has talked about ‘we would only have an extension if there is a second referendum that it would be an extension to give effect to’ – is that what Jeremy Hunt is accepting?”
8.45am update: Rory Stewart vows to block no deal Brexit
Rory Stewart has warned Boris Johnson he will vote against the Government in order to prevent a no deal Brexit.
International Development Secretary, who is supporting Jeremy Hunt in the leadership contest, said it would create “endless delay and uncertainty” if Britain left the bloc on October 31 without an agreement.
Mr Stewart told the Today programme: “I would definitely vote against a Conservative government to stop a no-deal Brexit.”
However Mr Stewart, who came fifth in the Tory leadership contest, stopped short of backing a no-confidence vote, fearing it would result as Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.
He said: “I wouldn’t vote to bring down a Conservative government – I don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister.
“The key thing for me is a no-deal Brexit would lead to endless delay and uncertainty, would let everybody down – I will work with my colleagues to prevent that happening.”
He added: “I would work with my colleagues to prevent us getting a no-deal Brexit but not to bring in a Jeremy Corbyn government.”
8.30am update: Jeremy Corbyn accused of ‘car crash’ Brexit strategy
Jeremy Corbyn has come under-fire from his closest ally John McDonnell who said Labour’s Brexit strategy had been “like a car crashing in slow motion”.
The Shadow Chancellor has joined a growing list of senior Labour figures including deputy leader, Tom Watson and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry who are growing disillusioned at its dithering stance on Brexit.
The revelation comes following a shadow cabinet meeting where it is understood Mr Corbyn continued to delay making a concrete decision on Brexit by another two weeks in order to hold further talks with trade unions.
Labour frontbenchers called for Mr Corbyn to take “decisive action” with Ms Thorberry stating “this is about leadership”.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth also called for a shift in policy and said Labour “should have the courage of our socialist principles” and support a second referendum.