Nigel Farage has opened the door to an alliance between the Brexit Party and the Conservatives – but only if Boris Johnson first ditches the much-criticised deal struck by Mrs May. Mr Johnson is the overwhelming favourite to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister after winning the second round of voting last night with the backing of 126 Tory MPs – 80 ahead of second placed Jeremy Hunt. The former Foreign Secretary has said Britain must leave the EU by October 31 – with or without a Brexit deal – but warned the deadline must be met “otherwise, I’m afraid, we face a catastrophic loss of confidence in politics”.
If Boris did that, and he was prepared to go to House of Commons to be voted down, to lose a motion of confidence, to go the country on a general election on that ticket and with the support of people of like me – he would win a massive, thumping majority
Mr Farage said at an event hosted by The Daily Telegraph he would require Mr Johnson to scrap the deal and leave under World Trade Organisation terms on October 31, ensure there was minimal disruption, and call a general election, in exchange for his support.
He said: “If Boris said ‘right, we’re ditching this terrible treaty, it’s the worst deal in history, I made a terrible mistake in voting for it, we’re ditching it’.
“’We’re giving Europe notice – we’re leaving on the 31st of October on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms. We’re going to do our utmost to make sure that in terms of terms of aviation, transport, the Port of Dover there is as little disruption as there possibly can be’ – then you might spring them into action and they might offer some sort of tariff-free deal.
“And if Boris did that, and he was prepared to go to House of Commons to be voted down, to lose a motion of confidence, to go the country on a general election on that ticket and with the support of people of like me – he would win a massive, thumping majority.”
Brexit LATEST: Nigel Farage would form pact with Boris Johnson – but only on certain conditions
When asked to reiterate his support for a deal contingent on going to the polls, the Brexit Party leader added: “If he was prepared to do that of course I’d want to work with them, of course I’d do that.”
Mr Farage has said there is “little chance” of the Conservatives delivering on the promise to leave the EU by October 31 – even if Mr Johnson becomes Prime Minister.
The Brexit Party leader told the Sunday Express if Mr Johnson tries to force the issue through Parliament, he will face “open civil war”.
But Mr Johnson has been warned doing a deal with the Brexit Party “would be an admission of defeat” for the Tories.
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Brexit LATEST: Concerns and hopes for Brexiteers and Remainers
9.31am update: Switzerland punished with finance block in a Brexit warning shot to Britain
EU chiefs are ready to punish Switzerland by blocking access to the bloc’s financial services markets as a warning to Britain over Brexit compromises.
Eurocrats will suspend Swiss stock exchanges’ direct access to European investors in July unless the country signs up to a draft EU partnership treaty.
Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner overseeing the talks, insisted Brussels must stand firm and be prepared to make an example of Switzerland.
In an internal note, the EU official insisted the course of action was necessary as a warning to Britain’s next prime minister that Brussels won’t compromise.
Mr Hahn wrote: “We simply cannot accept any further attempts of foot dragging and watering down internal market rules, especially in what is probably the decisive phase regarding Brexit.”
Much like the Brexit process, Swiss government negotiators have asked to renegotiate their draft deal with the EU after it was blocked domestically.
Mr Hahn insisted that blocking Switzerland from EU financial markets “may be just the warning shot across the bow they need”.
9.27am update: Boris will take UK out of EU by October 31 – Nadhim Zahawi
Tory MP and Boris Johnson ally Nadhim Zahawi is confident the leadership frontrunner will take the UK out of the EU by October 31.
He told the Today programme: “I certainly believe that we will leave on October 31 under Boris Johnson – I had a long chat with him about this last night. He absolutely is committed to this.
“He has said that we will leave on October 31 and the target is important.”
9.22am update: ‘Rory’s solution is Theresa May’s deal’ Hunt hits out at Tory leadership rival
Jeremy Hunt said Rory Stewart has not outlined a solution to the Brexit crisis, and claims is the same much-criticised agreement stuck by Theresa May.
The Foreign Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Rory has done a brilliant campaign. He did not have such a great night last night.
But the truth is that Rory does not have a solution to Brexit. Rory’s solution is Theresa May’s deal and I don’t believe that will work.
“I do. I believe I can negotiate a better deal – I have got the skills to do that and that is the way that I am going to surprise people.”
Brexit LATEST: Jeremy Hunt has hit out at Rory Stewart over his plan for the UK to leave the EU
9am update: There could be ’no Brexit’ if wrong Tory leader is chosen, Hunt warns
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said outlined why he is best placed to cut a deal with Brussels on Brexit.
He said: “A negotiator has to have three qualities. The first is it has to be someone the other side trust, because you don’t do a deal with somebody you don’t trust.
“Secondly, it has got to be someone who doesn’t blink.
“And thirdly, it has got to be somebody who is prepared to walk away.
“Now, the danger is that if we choose the wrong person now, we will have no trust, no negotiation, no deal, and possibly, if we have an election, no Brexit.”
8.54am update: Hunt confused over Johnson’s stance on leaving EU by October 31
Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am not entirely sure what he believes on this, having listened to him last night.
“You have to think these things through because prime ministers have to make these judgments.”
8.41am update: Tories warn against pact with Farage
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has rejected forming an alliance with the Brexit Party, warning doing so would be an “admission of defeat”.
She told The Daily Telegraph: “To win the next general election we don’t have to become the Brexit Party, make an electoral pact with them in certain seats, or offer a coalition in Parliament.
“We have to respect the referendum result and leave the EU, as we said we would.
“Doing a deal with the Brexit Party would be an admission of defeat. And we’re not dead yet.”
Brexit LATEST: The Tory leadership candidates were at odds over the UK’s plan to leave the EU
8.37am update: Corbyn ‘to cave into Remainer demands and back second referendum TODAY’
Jeremy Corbyn will today finally endorse a second referendum on any deal negotiated with the EU, according to reports.
Labour performed poorly in the recent European elections, losing half their seats, though they won the Peterborough by-election, their vote share was reduced by 17 percent.
A lack of clarity over their Brexit position has been cited by figures within the party as the reason behind the poor performance.
The Shadow Cabinet will meet today to discuss the changes.
A senior Labour source told The Times that Mr Corbyn will be committing to the policy recommended in a paper drawn up by Andrew Fisher, his head of policy.
One source who had not seen Mr Fisher’s paper said Mr Corbyn could still struggle to attract Remain voters.
They said: “Jeremy could run down Whitehall in a People’s Vote onesie and a lot of people would still not be convinced that he really believed it, he has got a lot of work to do to ensure that the message is clear and unambiguous.”
8.10am update: Tory leadership candidates disagree again over Brexit deadline
The five candidates varied on their approach to meeting the October 31 Brexit deadline in the BBC live Tory leadership debate on Tuesday evening.
Rory Stewart referenced a “door called Parliament” standing between the UK and leaving the European Union, and claimed he is the only one trying to find the key to this door.
The International Development Secretary said: “Everybody else is staring at the wall shouting believe in Britain.
But Michael Gove quickly pointed out: “But we’ve run into that door three times already, Rory.”
Jeremy Hunt and Mr Gove warned a delay beyond the October 31 deadline may be needed if a deal was within reach, while Boris Johnson said the current deadline was eminently feasible”.