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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to face Brexit questions in Northern Ireland

02 July 2019

With former London mayor Boris Johnson and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt stepping up their campaigns to replace Theresa May, both have turned their attention to how they would run a country which is deeply divided after Britain's 2016 European Union referendum.

Scottish independence and a push for Irish reunification are "real threats" of a no-deal Brexit, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said. Hunt also pledged what was in effect a £13 billion per year corporation tax cut in order to "fire up" the economy in response to the fears of some that a no-deal outcome could weaken the legs of British industry.

Meanwhile Hilary Benn, Labour chairman of the Exiting The European Union Committee, insisted it was still possible to stop the United Kingdom crashing out of the EU, despite an attempt to shut down Government spending in the event of a no-deal Brexit appearing to have stalled.

"If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fishermen, farmers and small businesses now". "But if a withdrawal deal is simply not on the cards then the only way to fulfil the democratic mandate of the referendum is to leave without a deal, which is what we will do", he said at the Policy Exchange think-tank event in London.

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Mr Hunt added: "There is a hard deadline in what I have said, by the end of September, I, as Prime Minister, will make a judgment as to whether there is a realistic prospect of a deal that can get through Parliament in the short-term".

The Sky News host Stephen Dixon said: "Jeremy Hunt came on Sky News last night and said no deal was scary to a lot of people".

"If you're negotiating a deal, you have to have trust on both sides", he said.

Furthermore, and in a sharp departure from his previous positions - which were often seen as more sympathetic to the Remain side of the Brexit debate - Mr Hunt this week attempted to appeal to Eurosceptics by floating the idea of withholding the UK's £39 billion so-called "divorce bill" if a no-deal Brexit scenario materialises into reality.

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Mr Hunt also spoke about his background, saying he felt "deeply uncomfortable" that his "posh school" education meant his life chances may be better than someone else who did not receive the same schooling. Mr Hunt has repeatedly said in the past that a no-deal Brexit is not his desired option, but that it is necessary to prepare for the possibility.

Mr. Hunt is vying with front-runner Boris Johnson to win the support of predominately pro-Brexit Conservative Party members, who will vote this month for Theresa May's replacement as Prime Minister.

"Then, when we have published our plan for a deal we think we can get through Parliament by the end of August, we will start formal negotiations in September".

He said: "I've had a conversation with Angela Merkel and..."

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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to face Brexit questions in Northern Ireland