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Tue, 2 June 2020

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Amber Rudd warns Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt their Brexit plans will 'collide with reality'

Amber Rudd warns Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt their Brexit plans will 'collide with reality'
3 min read

The next Prime Minister will have to compromise on their Brexit plans when they "collide with reality", Cabinet minister Amber Rudd has warned. 

The Work and Pensions Secretary, who is backing Jeremy Hunt over Boris Johnson in the race to be the next Conservative leader, said both men would have to make concessions to win over a "difficult" Parliament.

And she admitted to being "surprised" that the two contenders had taken a hardline stance on leaving the EU in a head-to-head debate earlier this week.

They both insisted that the Northern Ireland backstop would need to be removed from the EU withdrawal agreement, rather than simply amended, for it to be acceptable to MPs.

But Ms Rudd told Politico: "I think they will find they have to compromise.

"I was surprised by what they both said and I think their views will collide with the reality when whichever one wins, starts negotiating and starts dealing with a Parliament which may be more difficult than they think to engage with."

Ms Rudd - a longstanding Cabinet opponent of leaving the European Union without a deal - raised eyebrows last week when she said that a no-deal needed to be "part of the armoury" for the next Prime Minister as they attempted to get changes to the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said Mr Hunt had "convinced" her that no-deal had be kept on the table.

But she acknowledged that Parliament could still move to block a hard exit.

"I think Parliament could very well," Ms Rudd said. "It’s not a certainty but I think the likelihood is that Parliament will find a way."


The Cabinet minister's comments come amid reports that Mr Johnson could suspend Parliament in the two weeks running up to the 31 October to guarantee Brexit happens on that date.

Sky News reported that the leadership frontrunner's team is planning to hold a Queen's Speech setting out his legislative plans at the start of November - a move that usually closes down Parliament for the preceding two weeks, meaning MPs would be unable to vote against a no-deal in the run-up to the crucial Brexit deadline.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has poured cold water on any suggestion to backstop could be scrapped by insisting that "peace and stability on the island of Ireland" and citizens’ rights would be her Brexit priorities.

She added: "The Withdrawal Agreement concluded with the government of the United Kingdom provides certainty where Brexit created uncertainty.

“However, I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason."