Brexit: Tory leadership frontrunners reveal Brexit strategies

Contenders will need the backing of eight of their colleagues to stay in the race

Monday, June 10, 2019

Frontrunners in the Conservative leadership contest have set out their strategies for striking a deal with the European Union.

Despite the EU saying they would not be reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, Michael Gove - seeking to get his campaign back on course after revelations over his past cocaine use came to light over the weekend - said "changing the Prime Minister changes everything".

He has also said he would be willing to delay Brexit beyond October 31 in order to secure a deal, and would lead a negotiating team himself.

Jeremy Hunt claimed German chancellor Angela Merkel had told him that the EU would be "willing to negotiate" with a new Prime Minister, and "would look at any solutions" the UK puts forward to solve the Northern Irish border issue.

Boris Johnson, who is currently the bookies' favourite to take the leadership crown, said he would use the £39 billion divorce bill to secure a better deal, refusing to hand over the cash unless improved terms were on offer.

He said he would scrap the backstop and settle the Irish border issue only when Brussels is ready to agree to a future relationship.

"I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write the entire cheque before having a final deal," he said.

"In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant."

Fellow contender Rory Stewart branded Mr Johnson's comments on money and the Irish border "undignified" and "irresponsible".

And Sajid Javid said he would offer to spend "hundreds of millions" on a technological solution to the Irish border question.

The nomination process officially begins today, and contenders will need to secure the backing of eight MPs or they will be eliminated from the contest.

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