Farage says it’s ‘absolute rubbish’ to say Theresa May’s Brexit deal can be renegotiated as he blasts Jeremy Hunt for sparking toxic Tory leadership row by slamming No Deal
- The Brexit Party leader dismissed Mr Hunt’s claims that it would be ‘political suicide’ for a new Tory Prime Minister to pursue a No Deal Brexit on October 31
- He said the current EU withdrawal deal would ‘not change by one dot or comma’
- Mr Hunt had warned a PM pursuing No Deal would be brought down by MPs
The triumphant Brexit Party leader said it was ‘absolute rubbish’ for Mr Hunt to suggest he could negotiate a better deal with Brussels than Theresa May.
The Foreign Secretary had warned that a PM intent on pursuing No Deal would be brought down by Parliament, prompting an election which the Tories could lose.
But rival camps accused Mr Hunt of a U-turn after he previously argued the country would ‘flourish and prosper’ after Brexit even without a negotiated agreement.
Nigel Farage (pictured left) has dismissed claims by Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt (right) that pursuing a No Deal Brexit would be ‘political suicide’
As the contest became increasingly acrimonious:
- Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock challenged their leadership rivals to sign up to a ‘clean campaign’ pledge;
- Rory Stewart publicly denied claims he was acting as a ‘suicide bomber’ to take out Boris Johnson with a series of outspoken attacks;
- Broadcasters attempted to bounce leadership candidates into TV debates by announcing plans for head-to-head battles apparently without the party’s agreement;
- Former chief whip Mark Harper and former Brexit minister James Cleverly will join the race this week – taking the number of contenders to an astonishing 12;
- It emerged that an online campaign to get Mr Johnson into the final run-off was being run by a prominent political blogger;
- Theresa May warned that a No Deal Brexit would not be ‘best for the UK’ as she arrived at a summit in Brussels;
- Commons Speaker John Bercow said that MPs in Parliament would inevitably ‘have their say’ on whether they wanted the country to leave without an agreement.
On an American talk show last night Mr Farage vowed: ‘If we do not leave the European Union on October 31, I will lead the Brexit Party after that into the next general election and we will sweep away parties that have dominated British politics for over 100 years.’
Earlier Mr Farage waded directly into the Tory race during his LBC show, which he hosted from Brussels where Mrs May was meeting EU leaders.
‘Every single person here in the European Commission, and leading groups in the European Parliament, will not change by one dot or comma that withdrawal agreement,’ Mr Farage said.
‘The truth of it is, if a Parliament tried to stop a Prime Minister leaving on that date and he ran a general election campaign on a No Deal, he actually would win a massive majority in the House of Commons.’
Mr Farage also slammed Mr Hunt for proposing a new UK negotiating team which would not include members of the Brexit Party.
Some Tory leadership candidates including Boris Johnson (pictured) have reacted to the party’s mauling at the European elections by vowing to leave the EU without a deal if necessary
Sajid Javid’s police officer pledge
Sajid Javid last night vowed to recruit 20,000 extra police officers if he becomes prime minister.
The Home Secretary said he would spend £1billion over three years to put bobbies on the beat ‘in every corner of the country’.
Mr Javid, who is standing in the Tory leadership race, said his recruitment drive would end the ‘culture of impunity’ enjoyed by criminals.
He also contradicted Theresa May, who has repeatedly denied that police had cuts are to blame for the rise in serious violence.
‘More police on the beat means less crime on our streets,’ he wrote in an article for The Sun.
‘Not exactly rocket science is it?
‘But what’s obvious in towns and cities across the country is not quite as clear cut in the rarefied corridors of Westminster and Whitehall – and it’s time for that to change.’ He added: ‘I would make police numbers a top priority. And continue work to peel back layers of bureaucracy.
‘That means 20,000 more coppers. Not sat behind desks, but pounding the pavements.
‘It’s what the police want, it’s what the public wants, and it’s what I will deliver.
‘I want to see a return to bobbies on the beat in every corner of the country.’
After declaring victory in the early hours of Monday Mr Farage had demanded that his victorious party be allowed to take part in talks with Brussels.
Speaking about Mr Hunt today he said: ‘He’s also pledging to create a new UK negotiating team – I wonder where he got that idea from?
‘That’s going to include some new members of the Conservative party and the DUP, but absolutely no mention of course of the offer I made on behalf of the Brexit Party.
‘I just don’t think that Jeremy Hunt and others in Westminster have listened and understood the implications for their party of what happened to them on Sunday night.’
Speaking to one listener who called to blast the Tories, Mr Farage said: ‘I’m going to invite Jeremy Hunt to come into the studio one Sunday morning. We’ll get him to take some calls and get him to understand what the mood of people like you is.’
In a round of interviews yesterday, Mr Hunt said the Conservatives would be committing ‘political suicide’ if they tried to force a No Deal Brexit.
He said a PM intent on forcing No Deal would be brought down by Parliament. That could force a general election which Mr Hunt said could put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.
‘I think we have to be careful about saying we will definitely leave the EU on a fixed date – deal or no deal,’ he said.
‘The risk of that is Parliament might try to stop a No Deal Brexit, as they have done, and we would be pushed into a general election.’
Mr Hunt said it was important to ‘find a different way to get a deal’, adding ‘we have to have a go at this’.
He added: ‘The only solution to the extremely difficult situation we’re in – and I don’t want to pretend that there’s an easy way through this – is to change the Withdrawal Agreement.’
Jeremy Hunt (left) has clashed with Esther McVey (right) over the prospect of a No Deal Brexit in the first sign of open conflict between Tory leadership rivals
Defending the Brexit Party’s absence from a possible negotiating team, he said Mr Farage was not in Parliament and did not want a deal.
But leadership rival Esther McVey fired back at his ‘political suicide’ comments, saying: ‘Political suicide actually lies in not having a clean break from the EU and not leaving on October 31.’
And a source on another leadership campaign said: ‘It is pretty extraordinary.
‘Jeremy Hunt has had more positions on Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn – he cannot make up his mind on whether he wants No Deal or to back Theresa May’s deal. He cannot be trusted to lead the Tory Party.’
The bitter row underlines the growing divide of the candidates in the race to succeed Mrs May.
Tory leadership contenders including (l-r) Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab were among those to issue dire warnings for the Conservative Party if it cannot sort out Brexit fast
The Conservatives fell to a humiliating fifth place in the European elections, falling behind the Brexit Party, the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens.
Boris Johnson vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, ‘deal or no deal’, if he is elected Tory leader.
Mr Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab and Miss McVey have all made clear they want the UK to get out of the EU at all costs by the end of October – the next deadline set with Brussels.
But International Development Secretary Mr Stewart, Health Secretary Mr Hancock and now Mr Hunt have warned against trying to force a No Deal departure.
Mr Stewart has rejected claims he is ‘running tactically’ for the Tory leadership.
After a journalist suggested some Tory MPs saw Mr Stewart as a ‘suicide bomber’ for Michael Gove, the International Development Secretary replied: ‘Putting aside the fact that your suicide metaphor sits a bit awkwardly for someone who was in Iraq and Afghanistan – I’m not running tactically – I am running on principle and because I believe we can unify this country and make it a much better place – why don’t they debate me?’
Other contenders have yet to spell out their positions, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid again dodging questions from reporters yesterday.
Leadership rival Dominic Raab said he was focused on ‘getting a fairer deal from the EU as we leave’.
But outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed ‘there will be no renegotiation’.
This map shows how the Brexit Party topped polls almost everywhere in England and Wales. The Tories did not come first in any council areas
Raab and Hancock: Let’s have a clean fight
Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock have challenged their leadership rivals to sign up to a ‘clean campaign’ pledge.
As the race to succeed Theresa May heats up, the pair have asked their leadership rivals to commit to not ‘speaking ill of fellow Conservatives’.
The pledge also asks that their campaign teams will abide by spending limits, ‘not engage in personality attacks’ on others and not allow third parties to pay for online advertising that supports their candidacy. The hopefuls are being asked to encourage their ‘supporters to keep their campaigning clean – particularly on social media’.
Mr Hancock said last night: ‘We shouldn’t hold back when it comes to debating ideas, but this contest should be about policies not personalities.’ And Mr Raab added: ‘This campaign should be about a battle of ideas not of personalities. That is why I have signed the Clean Campaign Pledge, and would urge all the other leadership contenders to do the same.’
He said: ‘Whoever wins this election needs to bring the party back together so that we can take on and defeat Jeremy Corbyn. Fighting a clean campaign is essential if we want to unite our party again.’
It emerged yesterday that a website has been set up by the founder of political website Guido Fawkes in support of Boris Johnson’s leadership bid.
Mr Gove last night signalled that he would not support a No Deal either as he warned that any scenario which ended in a general election risked Brexit being cancelled altogether.
He said: ‘We must leave the EU before we have an election. Otherwise we will be punished at the ballot box, Corbyn will be in Number 10 propped up by the SNP, and Brexit may well be reversed altogether.’
Kit Malthouse yesterday became the tenth Tory MP to declare they will stand. The housing minister admitted he was an outsider but said there was ‘a hunger for someone new’ in No 10.
Former Tory chief whip Mr Harper, who has been mulling a run for the top job for the past few days, has told friends he will announce his candidacy this week. Meanwhile, Brexit minister Mr Cleverly is thought to also be preparing to throw his hat in the ring.
On his show Mr Farage also renewed his fury at Remainer claims that pro-EU parties had collectively done better than Brexiteers at the European elections.
The Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK and Scottish and Welsh nationalists won more votes between them than the combined efforts of the Brexit Party and Ukip.
But that sum fails to take account of the pro-Brexit Tories. If they are included in the Brexit column, pro-Leave parties were stronger overall.
Moreover, Mr Farage’s movement won far more votes and seats than any other individual party.
On his show Mr Farage held up a Lib Dem leaflet from before polling day in which Labour and the Tories were named as pro-Brexit parties.
‘In their leaflets they tell you – the Conservative and Labour parties were choices for a form of Brexit,’ he said.
‘That shows you some of the trickery that was going on.’
Some Remainers have argued that the results show a combined pro-EU vote running ahead of the pro-Brexit vote
Mr Farage gave his own interpretation of the results as he tackled the claims that were being circulated by Remainers on social media
Corbyn ‘will announce Labour backing for second referendum within days’
Jeremy Corbyn could announce Labour’s backing for a second referendum within days, it has been claimed.
The party leader has faced huge pressure to commit to a more decisive line on Brexit since his party was thrashed at the European elections last week.
Labour fell to an embarrassing third place behind the Liberal Democrats, who took a much more avowedly pro-Europe position – prompting calls for Mr Corbyn to back a new public vote.
Now senior Labour figures have said he is poised to back a second referendum, the Mirror reported.
One shadow Cabinet minister said a decisive move would ‘give our membership confidence again that they can get back on the doorstep’.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured outside his London home) could announce Labour’s backing for a second referendum within days, it has been claimed
John Bercow (pictured in the U.S. on Tuesday) said it was not ‘sensible to vacate the chair’ while the ‘momentous events’ of Brexit were taking place
Bercow will continue as Commons Speaker
John Bercow has revealed he will stay on as Speaker of the House of Commons, denying claims he was set to quit this summer.
Mr Bercow said it was not ‘sensible to vacate the chair’ while the ‘momentous events’ of Brexit were taking place.
The former Tory MP, who took the job in 2009 and initially promised to step down by 2018, rejected claims he would go in July, the Guardian reported.
He has frequently clashed with Tory MPs who have accused him of ‘making it up as he goes along’ in a series of controversial rulings over Brexit procedure.
Earlier he insisted MPs would have a say over a No Deal Brexit, saying it was ‘unimaginable’ that Britain would crash out without Parliament influencing events.
‘The House will want to have its say, and the idea that the House won’t have its say is just for the birds,’ he said.
The default position is that Britain will leave on October 31 and it is unclear whether Parliament could stop a Prime Minister intent on pursuing No Deal, but Commons rules have proven flexible in recent months.
Speaking to the Brookings Institution in Washington, Mr Bercow said: ‘The appetite of the House to have its say has recently been whetted and that appetite is not exhausted, indeed some would say it’s voracious.
‘As to where we go from here, my own view is that we have to see who emerges as the next Prime Minister.
‘Parliament is a big player in this. The idea that Parliament is going to be evacuated from the centre stage of debate on Brexit is unimaginable. It is simply unimaginable.’
Current law states that the UK will leave on October 31 so Parliament may have to defy the new PM’s wishes and change the law to force another postponement if Britain is heading for No Deal.
In April, rebel MPs did succeed in passing a law which mandated Theresa May to ask Brussels for an extension.
But the remaining EU member states still have to agree a delay, meaning Parliament could not change the Brexit date by itself even if it passed another law.
The Commons could also pass a resolution rejecting No Deal, which would apply huge political pressure to the PM but would not legally bind them.
Alternatively, MPs could bring the Government down with a motion of no confidence, but this might not allow time to change the exit date.
Asked whether a PM committed to No Deal could force it through, Mr Bercow said: ‘My reading of the situation is that legally the default position in the absence of an agreement is Brexit on October 31.
‘There can, however, be a difference between what the law says and what political movements between now and then decrees.
‘I’m not saying that Brexit without a deal will happen and I’m not saying that it definitely won’t. I am saying that Parliament and individual parliamentarians will have strong views about these matters.
‘There is a difference between a legal default position and what the interplay of political forces in Parliament will facilitate.’
‘The idea that there is an inevitablity of a No Deal Brexit would be a quite wrong suggestion. There is no inevitability whatsoever about that.’
Mr Corbyn has toed a careful line on a second vote, concerned that Labour would be wiped out in its former northern heartlands if it was seen to be sabotaging Brexit.
He has demanded a general election and spoken only vaguely of keeping a second referendum on the table.
But his position has come under fierce scrutiny after Labour’s embarrassment at the European polls.
Labour finished behind the Liberal Democrats in pro-Remain London – including in the party leader’s own Islington backyard.
After the results came in Mr Corbyn inched closer than ever before to backing a so-called People’s Vote, saying any Brexit deal ‘has to be put to a public vote’.
Pro-EU MPs Wes Streeting and Ben Bradshaw both spoke of difficult doorstep experiences as Labour was derided for its equivocal position on Brexit.
Yesterday shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott insisted Labour was moving towards a ‘clearer line’ on Brexit.
Ms Abbott said there was ‘no inherent contradiction’ between respecting the result of the 2016 referendum and having another poll.
‘I’ve always argued that it’s perfectly possible that Leave would win again but we’re supporting a People’s Vote strongly now because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the democratic thing to do,’ she said.
She went on: ‘Our position is that ideally we want a general election – if we can’t get a general election in time, we would support a People’s Vote.’
Deputy leader Tom Watson has also backed a second referendum, saying: ‘We’ve lost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of potential votes in that election because we got it wrong.’
He told the BBC: ‘The time is now to show some humility, to listen and to move very, very quickly.’
And former prime minister Tony Blair said he had voted Labour ‘without great enthusiasm’ as he too pushed for the party to throw its weight behind a referendum.
He said Mr Corbyn ‘has got to come to a clear position’, telling Sky News: ‘The one that is very obvious is that both party leaderships have made the same mistake, which is to think that it’s possible to sit on the fence on Europe and appeal to both sides.
‘What the European elections show you is that isn’t possible.’
However union boss Len McCluskey has urged Labour to stick to its current position and try to bring Leavers and Remainers together.
The leader of the Unite union has urged Labour to stay united, ready to govern to ‘transform the country’ despite the party’s poor showing in the Euro polls.
‘The blame lies firmly with the Tory party which has handled the Brexit process disastrously causing despair and disillusion among voters driving many to (Nigel) Farage and his simplistic offer,’ he said.
‘Labour has been the only party that has sought to unite the nation on Brexit and this is an honourable objective that must not be abandoned.
‘This is the time to hold our nerve because the true prize is the very real possibility of a looming general election.
‘That is the opportunity for Labour to go to the people to present its programme to transform our country, rebuilding our communities and restoring hope to those who feel abandoned by Westminster.
‘Faced now with the serious prospect of a no deal Tory prime minister, Labour must stay united and show the country that it is ready to lead.’
Meanwhile the party was engulfed by a further row after Mr Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell was thrown out of the party for supporting the Lib Dems.
Alastair Campbell was yesterday expelled from Labour after he admitted he had not voted for the party for first time in his life, in disgust at the party’s stance on Europe
Speaking outside his north London home, Mr Campbell said he will appeal the expulsion and warned Labour faces ‘oblivion’ unless it clarifies its Brexit position.
‘I think that there are people in Jeremy Corbyn’s office, senior positions in Jeremy Corbyn’s office, who have recommended voting against the Labour Party,’ he said.
‘You can interpret the rules in all sorts of different ways, but one thing I know is I’m not going to leave the party just because some random email comes in telling me that I’ve been expelled.’
Mr Campbell, a key player in the New Labour era, declined to rule out shunning the party again in a snap general election and said it would ‘depend’ on its Brexit policy.
He described his rapid expulsion as ‘strange’ and said ‘people will inevitably draw the contrast with the lack of rapidity in dealing with cases involving anti-Semitism’.
Labour rules say members who support a party other than Labour are automatically ineligible for membership.
Humiliated Theresa May finally gets sympathy from the fellow European leaders who helped make Brexit impossible for her as she arrives in Brussels
A humiliated Theresa May faced European leaders who spent months hardballing her over Brexit yesterday – as Nigel Farage revelled in his election triumph and told her the UK must leave by October 31 at the latest.
She met a host of EU bigwigs including outgoing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels today for her last summit as Conservative leader.
A grim-faced PM insisted she would keep fulfilling her ‘obligations’ despite being forced to announce her departure from Downing Street last week.
But Mr Farage, who was also in Brussels for separate discussions, told reporters the next Tory leader should say the UK is leaving in October come what may, and give the EU five months to come to the table with a counter-offer.
Theresa May was consoled by EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured) over her political demise yesterday as she attended a summit in Brussels
Bolstered by the trouncing the Brexit Party inflicted on the Tories and Labour, securing an extraordinary 29 MEPs, he said: ‘We give an ultimatum to Brussels rather than the other way round’.
Arriving at her final summit as Tory leader Mrs May said the results were ‘deeply disappointing’ for her party and showed ‘the importance of actually delivering on Brexit’.
She said: ‘I think the best way to do that is with a deal, but it will be for my successor and for Parliament to find a way forward to get a consensus and I hope those election results will focus Parliament on the need to deliver Brexit’.
Mrs May is embraced by Dutch premier Mark Rutte while Belgian leader Charles Michel (right) looks on in Brussels
Mrs May is in Brussels for what will be her last summit as Tory leader after she quit last Friday
Eye to eye: Theresa May and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker – who have previously clashed in Brussels summits – meet again in the Belgian capital
Mrs May appeared to see the funny side as she filled in EU counterparts including Mark Rutte (centre) and Xavier Bettel (left) about the political disaster that has befallen her in the UK over recent weeks
Mr Juncker revealed his first meeting was with Mrs May and said he was ‘crystal clear’ that Brexit talks are over with Britain, adding: ‘There will be no renegotiation’.
The premier has also met EU council president Donald Tusk, who is thought to have delivered a similar tough message.
France and Germany appeared on a collision course over who should hold one of the European Union’s most coveted jobs, after weekend elections across the 28-nation bloc redrew Europe’s political map.
Arriving in Brussels for an EU summit, French President Emmanuel Macron virtually ruled out the prospect of German politician Manfred Weber replacing Jean-Claude Juncker as the new president of the bloc’s executive arm, the European Commission.
There was even an embrace from Mr Rutte, who has been one of the European leaders most in the UK’s corner during the negotiations
Mrs May was hugged by a series of EU leaders as they seemingly voiced sympathy at her plight and the political difficulties that have laid her low
Mrs May shared a joke with Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel