Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged he may ‘pay a political price’ for being honest in the Tory leadership contest.
In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, the foreign secretary said he was not prepared to make a commitment to leave the European Union on October 31st when it was clear Parliament could block it.
He said prime ministers should “only make promises they know they can deliver”.
However, after his leadership rival Boris Johnson said it would be “insane” to delay Brexit again, Hunt admitted his “honesty” could cost him in the race for No 10.
Speaking later at a leadership hustings in Cheltenham, he said: “Maybe I will pay a political price for being honest with people.
“But the reality is that we face a hung parliament with people – not just in the Labour Party but in our own party – absolutely determined to stop us leaving without a deal.”
In his BBC interview, Hunt reaffirmed his commitment to leave the EU without a deal if he was unable to negotiate a new agreement with Brussels on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal.
He insisted, however, that it was possible to get a revised deal with Brussels by the end of September, and said if it took “a few extra days” to get it through parliament he would delay Brexit beyond the current October 31 deadline.
Asked whether he would be prepared to delay by days, weeks or months, Hunt replied: “Well, it’s not going to be months.”
But pressed on whether the UK would be out by Christmas, he said: “I’m not going to give you those commitments…
“It’s because prime ministers should only make promises they know they can deliver. And there’s another reason why we have to be careful about this 31st of October date.
“It is because parliament may try and take a no deal Brexit off the table altogether.”