Jeremy Hunt, who is competing with Boris Johnson for the UK’s Conservative Party leadership, has given more details on his agenda for the future of Brexit to set himself apart from his opponent, who has made promises but is yet to give clear answers on how he plans to achieve them. On Monday, July 1st, Hunt set the end of September as the date when he would decide whether he would push for a no-deal exit from the EU.
In a statement, Hunt said he would deliver a provisional "no-deal Brexit budget" in early September and then give the EU three weeks, the BBC reported. Should there be no "immediate prospect" of progress, he vowed to move to a no-deal stance from there. The end of September is the date that Hunt has set as a deadline to decide whether there is a "realistic chance" of reaching a new Brexit deal with the EU.
Both Hunt and Johnson have vowed to take the UK out of the European Union to fulfil the result of the 2016 referendum.
Johnson has vowed to leave "come what may" by October 31st and called it a “do or die” situation. He further said it was important to not miss any more deadlines. Meanwhile, Hunt has been claiming he would be willing to extend the negotiation phase if an agreement was in sight at the time. He did, however, want to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table as a negotiation tool and last resort.
Questioned on the possible economic blows a disruptive Brexit could cause the country, both candidates have also vowed to use a fiscal cushion built up by the government to soften the economic impact.
According to AP, Hunt said the government had stored up "around 26 billion pounds ($33 billion) of headroom", and he would use part of it to help farmers, the fishing industry and small businesses likely to be hit by the effects of a no-deal Brexit.
This is a promise British Treasury chief Philip Hammond did not agree with. On Monday, Hammond warned the two contenders that their expensive spending promises will be impossible to deliver if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal.
Hammond said that unless Britain made an orderly exit from the EU, the government's "fiscal firepower will all be needed to plug the hole a 'no-deal' Brexit will make in the public finances".
In any case, Hunt wanted the EU to know preparations were going ahead to leave either way. "It is important that the EU knows that we will do what it takes to make a success of a 'no-deal' Brexit," Hunt said in his statement. "We won't blink as a country. That 'no-deal' Brexit is not going to be an opportunity for them to successfully turn the screws on our country."
Hunt and Johnson are currently competing for the votes of about 160,000 Conservative Party members by participating in hustings across the country. The winner is expected to be announced on July 23rd and will be successor to Theresa May as party leader and prime minister.