Jeremy Hunt urges Boris Johnson to 'be straight with people' about impact of no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
28th June 2019

Jeremy Hunt has accused Boris Johnson of trying to mislead people about the potential impacts of a no-deal Brexit.

Jeremy Hunt at the latest Tory leadership hustings.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Tory leadership hopeful said his rival needed "to be straight with people" after he claimed the UK could still continue tariff-free trade with the bloc even if it leaves on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement in place.

Mr Johnson has insisted that Brexit must happen "do or die" by Hallowe'en, and also claimed that a provision under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, known as GATT 24, would allow free imports and exports to continue while a long-term trade agreement is thrashed out.

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However, he has also said that leaving with no deal is a "million to one" shot and claimed he will be able to renegotiate Theresa May Brexit deal - despite the EU repeatedly saying that is not possible.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, who is the bookies' favourite to be the next Prime Minister, Mr Hunt pointed out that even Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox, who is supporting the former Foreign Secretary's leadership bid, disagreed with him on GATT 24.

And he added: "You also maintain that in a no-deal scenario we can negotiate a free trade agreement during an implementation period.

"It is a fact that there can be no implementation period without a withdrawal agreement because it would require a deal with the EU to reach this arrangement. 

"However much we wish something not to be the case, however strong the pragmatic or economic case for a different approach, the experience of the last three years has shown that the EU are prepared to put the cohesion of their political project above economics. We must be careful to face the facts as we find them. Will you be straight with people that no deal means no implementation period?"

Urging Mr Johnson to finally agree to a head-to-head debate between the pair, Mr Hunt said: "Over the past few days you have got some important facts wrong.

"I believe it is now more vital than ever that we conduct head to head debates this week before ballot papers go out, so party members can make up their minds if you - and indeed I - understand the detail on these crucial issues."

EMERGENCY BUDGET

Meanwhile, The Times reports that Mr Johnson is planning an emergency Budget which would see a wave of tax cuts aimed at boosting the economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The paper also claims that the leadership frontrunner has promised the job of Chancellor to Sajid Javid.

And Liz Truss - another who has been tipped for the Chancellor's job - refused to rule out the possibility of Mr Johnson suspending Parliament in order to ensure Brexit happens on 31 October.

Appearing on the BBC's Question Time, she said: "I don’t want that, of course I don’t. I don’t want that, Boris doesn’t want that either. But I think it’s very difficult at this point in time to… His aim, his promise is to leave by 31October. And I think the country needs it."