Hunt throws down gauntlet to Boris Johnson on Brexit during TV debate – 'Where is Boris?'

Hunt throws down gauntlet to Boris Johnson on Brexit during TV debate – 'Where is Boris?'

Boris Johnson had earlier revealed he would not be taking part in tonight’s Tory leadership debate and Jeremy Hunt was quick to point out his absence as the candidates clashed over Brexit. Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid argued a no deal Brexit should not be taken off the table, while Rory Stewart dismissed leaving the EU without an agreement as “complete nonsense”. During the debate, Mr Hunt highlighted how the candidates had spent the first “25 minutes” debating Brexit before questioning: ”Where is Boris?"

The Foreign Secretary added: “If Boris’s team won’t let him out to debate five pretty friendly colleagues, how will he get on with 27 EU countries.”

Mr Hunt then said: "If when it comes to October 31 the only way to deliver Brexit is to leave without a deal then I'm out, because we must deliver on our democratic promise.”

He added that would not let the UK leave without a deal if an agreement with the EU was "almost there”.

Meanwhile, Mr Gove declared: "I am the candidate who can secure a deal."

Former Brexit secretary, Mr Raab argued that Britain "can manage those risks" attached to a no deal and WTO rules.

He said: "I don't want no deal, I want to give ourselves the best shot of getting a deal," before adding that he would put together an early budget if he became prime minister.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid also agreed no deal should not be taken off the table as it is a key negotiating tool.

Mr Javid said: "Businesses want as much certainty as possible but the reason no deal exists as an option, should remain an option, is precisely because we want a deal."

When asked about whether they be willing to invite Nigel Farage to take part in negotiations, Mr Stewart revealed he would love to engage with the Brexit Party leader because he "represents the man that led that Leave campaign".

However, Mr Stewart then added: “I think a no-deal Brexit is a complete nonsense.

"It would be deeply damaging for our economy, so how does it work in a negotiation?"

Responding to the same question, Mr Gove said: "Brexit is not about one politician's ego trip, it's about bringing this country together."

He said he could be the "captain of the team".

Mr Javid also appeared to rule out including Mr Farage in negotiations as he said it would be the "job of the elected government" to deliver Brexit.

Mr Hunt argued a no deal Brexit would create a "potentially catastrophic rift" in relations with the EU, before adding Mr Farage is "not the answer" because "we are a tolerant Britain".

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