In Brief

Boris Johnson says UK will leave EU on 31 October ‘do or die’

Tory leadership frontrunner hardens his position on Brexit

Boris Johnson says Britain will leave the European Union on 31 October “do or die”. Speaking to Talkradio, the frontrunner in the race for the Tory leadership said: “We are getting ready to come out on 31 October. Come what may. Do or die.”

He also said he would scrap Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and seek a completely new deal before then. “I mean more than a change,” he said. “It’s got to be, we need a new withdrawal agreement – if we’re going to go out on the basis of a withdrawal agreement.”

Later, on Twitter, Johnson added: “We must keep our promises to the British people and deliver Brexit - no ifs, no buts, and no second referendum.”

The former foreign secretary's latest words represent a “hardening of his position” and a newly “toughened Brexit stance”, The Guardian says. 

The plan has “been met with dismay in Brussels”, The Times says, but according to the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler “EU leaders do not take [Johnson and Jeremy Hunt] at their word when they threaten no deal by the end of October”.

Johnson has challenged his Tory leadership rival to match his commitment to leave by 31 October, but Jeremy Hunt has dismissed his rival’s obsession with the date.

“I think that 31 October come hell or high water is a fake deadline, because it's more likely to trip us into a general election before we've delivered Brexit, and that would hand the keys to Jeremy Corbyn and then we'd have no Brexit at all,” he said.

Hunt says that he would leave the EU without a deal, but not if there was a “prospect of a better deal”. He also suggested that there is a lack of trust in Johnson to fulfil his promises on Brexit.

“Who is the person that we trust to send to Brussels on behalf of the British people and come back with a deal, and that has to be someone that they trust, that they’re prepared to talk to, because in the end you don’t do a deal with someone you don’t trust,” he said.

The winner of the Tory leadership contest will take over from Theresa May on 24 July.

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