UK Politics

Tory leadership candidates' Brexit plans in a nutshell

British/EU flag hanging outside the Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

The Conservative leadership candidates all know that solving the Brexit conundrum is their number one task.

But how do they propose to solve the problems? And if they can't, what are their contingency plans?

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg asked the remaining leadership candidates to outline their Brexit proposals.

The catch? To answer the questions in 50 words or less.

See how they did...

Michael Gove

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How will you get a deal agreed with the EU?

First, I'll negotiate a full stop to the backstop - a guarantee it can never be permanent.

Second, I'll secure a Union Guarantee in international law so that our United Kingdom cannot be undermined.

Third, I'll secure a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement which takes back control of our laws, borders and money.

How would you get the deal through Parliament?

I would involve Conservative MPs in shaping our negotiating stance and install a negotiating team led by politicians.

My Union Guarantee will help me secure the support of the DUP.

I also have a track record working across political divides, and would work with opposition MPs committed to Brexit.

If Parliament votes the deal down, what is your contingency plan?

I want to deliver Brexit as soon as possible and before 31 October.

However, I have said that if it will take a few more days or weeks to finalise a deal, I would be prepared to contemplate a short delay.

What would you do if your contingency plan fails?

I will always choose Brexit over no Brexit. So if it ultimately came to a choice, I would choose no deal over no Brexit. I led the Vote Leave campaign. I am determined to finish what I started and ensure we leave the EU.

If you had to make a choice between an election and another referendum, which would you choose?

This is a false choice. We need to honour the referendum and deliver Brexit before there is an election.

We must not blunder into a confidence vote which we could lose. I am categorically opposed to a second referendum, which is only advocated for by people who want to remain.

Would you campaign to leave or stay in the EU in another referendum?

To leave.

Jeremy Hunt

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How will you get a deal agreed with the EU?

We are not pretending it's going to be easy but the EU doesn't want no deal and there is a deal to be done if the right team is sent to negotiate it.

I will present Brussels with a credible plan and a new negotiating team so they have confidence it can get through Parliament.

How would you get the deal through Parliament?

We have to deal with the biggest issue Parliament has which is the backstop that could leave the UK permanently trapped in the customs union against its will.

Changing the deal to address this concern, while maintaining support from across the Conservative Party and DUP, will get Brexit delivered.

If Parliament votes the deal down, what is your contingency plan?

I have always believed that if the only way to deliver Brexit was through no deal, then I would pursue that.

But I would not pursue no deal, with all the risks it involves, if there was the chance of a good deal.

What I would not do is set a hard stop on 31 October by which we would be forced into no deal, even if it meant an election and Jeremy Corbyn in No 10.

What would you do if your contingency plan fails?

I started my own business and negotiated for every day of my professional life - I am wholly focused on making sure it succeeds.

If you had to make a choice between an election and another referendum, which would you choose?

We have to give the country better choices than these, and as an experienced negotiator who understands European leaders, I am best placed to do that.

Would you campaign to leave or stay in the EU in another referendum?

We don't want another referendum, but if there was one I would vote to leave. The people have decided and the democratic risk of not delivering their decision is colossal. We have to get on with it and that's exactly what I would do.

Sajid Javid

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How will you get a deal agreed with the EU?

We need to focus on the one thing that's needed to get a deal through Parliament: alternative arrangements to the backstop.

And we need to work with Ireland - the key player in this - to deliver those arrangements, beginning with a bold offer to pick up their costs for technological solutions.

How would you get the deal through Parliament?

Parliament has already voted for the current withdrawal agreement with changes to the backstop. That's why it's what I'd focus on securing with the EU.

If Parliament votes the deal down, what is your contingency plan?

We need to leave the EU on 31 October. I am confident we can agree a deal - and Parliament will support what it has already voted for in the past.

But if it comes to a choice between no deal, and no Brexit, I would have to back no deal.

What would you do if your contingency plan fails?

No deal is the default if Parliament cannot agree a deal - and I would make sure we are fully prepared for it.

But we have to be honest about what the choice is. We cannot accept no Brexit as an outcome.

So either we agree a deal, or leave without one on 31 October.

If you had to make a choice between an election and another referendum, which would you choose?

We can't reduce this debate to false choices. We've asked the public too many times already for their views on Brexit.

Once should have been enough. They want us to get on with it now. Asking yet again would risk irreparable damage to trust in our democracy.

Would you campaign to leave or stay in the EU in another referendum?

I've been clear we need to get on with Brexit - no second referendum.

The people delivered a clear instruction to the British people, and as I said at the time it is our job as elected politicians to deliver it, however we voted at the time.

Boris Johnson

Image copyright Reuters

How will you get a deal agreed with the EU?

It's clear that the prime minister's deal is dead - having been rejected by Parliament three times.

We should have come out by March and both of the main political parties are paying the price for failing to do so. We now need to make sure we come out on 31 October, come what may, and we need to show that we are serious about leaving with no deal.

To be clear, I don't want no deal, but it's only by being serious you can be confident of getting a new, better deal.

How would you get the deal through Parliament?

Parliament has already made clear that it is willing to vote for a better deal, and last week made clear that it wasn't willing to take no deal off the table.

I am confident that, so long as we can address MPs' concerns with the old withdrawal agreement, we can strike a new deal that Parliament will want to vote for.

If Parliament votes the deal down, what is your contingency plan?

I am not planning for failure. Politics has changed since 29 March, and I believe that MPs now realise they need to deliver on the result of the referendum, or risk a devastating breach in public confidence in our politics.

What would you do if your contingency plan fails?

Again, I am not planning for failure. We must deliver on the democratic wishes of the British people.

If you had to make a choice between an election and another referendum, which would you choose?

Neither. It's clear that the public doesn't want to us to force them to vote again.

Would you campaign to leave or stay in the EU in another referendum?

Leave, but there isn't going to be another referendum if I become prime minister.

Rory Stewart

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How will you get a deal agreed with the EU?

I would not negotiate a new deal with the EU. I would take through the deal we have already got.

Pretending that we can get a different deal out of Brussels is simply a recipe for more uncertainty and delay.

How would you get the deal through Parliament?

All deals have to go through Parliament. The current deal has 270 votes. We need 45 more.

The European Elections are an electric shock which will make MPs determined to get Brexit done. There is only one door - Parliament. And one key - getting a majority.

If Parliament votes the deal down, what is your contingency plan?

My plan B would be a Brexit Assembly. It worked in Ireland to resolve the impasse on abortion.

While Parliament will always remain sovereign, the Assembly would present a clear recommendation on the best way forward to break the deadlock.

What would you do if your contingency plan fails?

In the end I - like everyone else - would have to return to getting a deal through Parliament. Parliament is sovereign. It is the only law-making body in the country.

If you had to make a choice between an election and another referendum, which would you choose?

We will only have to face that hideous choice in the future if we fail to engage with reality now.

As leader I would avoid both by getting a deal through Parliament.

I do not want to see a general election until 2022, and I think a second referendum would be deeply damaging to this country as well as to faith in our democracy.

Would you campaign to leave or stay in the EU in another referendum?

It's because I am the only candidate engaging with the reality of delivering on the result of the first referendum that I can confidently say we won't be having a second.

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