Amber Rudd has warned Conservative Party leadership candidates that Tory MPs will bring down the government if they try to force a no-deal Brexit.
The work and pensions secretary, who is backing Jeremy Hunt in the contest, said a “number of colleagues” would rather vote against their own government in a vote of no confidence that allow no-deal.
Asked on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics if the numbers were “easily there” to win such a vote, she said: “I believe they are, yes.”
Rudd said it would be a “step too far” for her to vote against a Tory government.
But added: “There are a number I know of privately who say that, so any candidate needs to factor that in as well into their strategy for the next few months.”
Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have both vowed to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.
Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart and Hunt have made less firm commitments on time.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, Hunt, who came second behind Johnson in the first round of voting, refused to commit to an October 31 exit.
“If you do make that guarantee and you go with the wrong approach, then you are committing us to nothing other than a hard Brexit, a no-deal Brexit,” he said.
The foreign secretary also did not rule out delaying Brexit beyond the end of this year.
Raab has warned the party will be “toast” if it fails to deliver Brexit by the current EU-imposed deadline of October 31.
Johnson has been under fire for avoiding scrutiny in the campaign so far. All the other candidates will take part in a leadership debate hosted by Channel 4 this evening.