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Jeremy Hunt refuses to say he would take the UK out of the EU by 2020

2 min read

Jeremy Hunt has refused to say that the UK would be out of the EU by 2020 if he becomes Prime Minister.

The Tory leadership hopeful said "Prime Ministers should only make promises they know they can deliver".

His comments, during a half-hour grilling with the BBC's Andrew Neil, are in marked contrast to his rival, Boris Johnson, who has said he would deliver Brexit by 31 October "do or die".

Asked if he would have the UK out by Christmas, Mr Hunt said: "I'm not going to give you those commitments … Prime Ministers should only make promises they know they can deliver.”

He added: “I’m not going to make that mistake [of promising an exit date].

“I am saying this: if you want to leave the EU quickly, if you want to avoid a general election, which is the risk if you go about this in the wrong way, I’m the person who has the biggest chance of negotiating that deal and getting us out by 31 October.”

Asked whether the UK could go into 2020 and still be in the EU if he becomes Prime Minister, Mr Hunt replied: "I don’t believe so, no."

He added: "I don’t believe that would be the case.

"I’m being honest with people. This is a negotiation.Idon’t control the parliamentary timetable."

Mr Hunt remains the clear underdog in the Tory leadership race, which only has 10 days to run.

During his own Andrew Neil interview, Boris Johnson conceded for the first time that his refusal to publicly back Sir Kim Darroch, the UK's ambassador to America, was one of the reasons why he resigned.

Mr Johnson also struggled to answer detailed questions on his claim that the UK could continue tariff-free trade with the EU after a no-deal Brexit.

A source close to Jeremy Hunt said: "Try as he did to find comfort in his happy place of full fibre broadband, there was no escape from a painful 30-minute interview that demonstrated his inability to grasp detail, his refusal to be straight with the public about the choices he would make as Prime Minister, and exposed the risks of choosing him to lead the country."

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