Rory Stewart forced into climbdown after suggesting he could back Labour move to rule out no-deal Brexit
Rory Stewart has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after suggesting he could back an opposition move to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
The Tory leadership hopeful said he "would be wholly supportive" of any attempt to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place.
Under the cross-party plan led by Labour, MPs would seize the Commons agenda on 25 June and introduce legislation making no-deal Brexit impossible.
It would also outlaw any move to shut down - or prorogue - Parliament in order to ensure Brexit happens on 31 October.
Labour unveiled the plan on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before Mr Stewart launched his leadership campaign.
Asked about the proposal at the event, the International Development Secretary said: "I am entirely against no deal and I am entirely against prorogation.
"I haven’t read the details of this. My instinct is that I would be wholly supportive of a move that tried to do that, because no-deal is not a credible threat.
"Nobody can get no-deal through Parliament because MPs, including me, will stop no-deal going through Parliament."
However, within an hour, Mr Stewart - who would have faced the sack from the Cabinet had he voted for the Labour proposal - insisted he would not be backing it.
He added: "My opposition to No-Deal is unwavering - the best and securest way to take No-deal of the table is to vote for me to be our next Prime Minister."
Meanwhile, Mr Stewart also used his launch event - which was held in a circus tent - to goad Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed Theresa May.
Referring to his choice of venue, he said: "In the competition for who is the greatest clown standing in this race there may be some competition."
Later, he added: "Do you really feel that is the person you want engaging in the detail, the future of your health and education system?
"Is this the person you want writing the instruction to the nuclear submarines, is this the man that you want to embodying our nation and guiding you through the most difficult country we’ve faced for 50 years?
"I trust the Conservative members to arrive at the correct answer."