Tory leadership contest: Voting to close

United Kingdom (HRNW): Voting will close later in the Conservative leadership contest, with the UK’s next prime minister set to be announced on Tuesday. Party members have until 17:00 BST to return their ballots for either Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson, regarded as the frontrunner in the contest. The winner and successor to Theresa May is due to take office on Wednesday. On Sunday, Philip Hammond told the media he intends to resign as chancellor if Mr Johnson becomes prime minister. Mr Hammond told the Andrew Marr Show he could not “sign up” to Mr Johnson’s Brexit strategy, which requires leaving the EU by 31 October, with or without a deal. His announcement followed Justice Secretary David Gauke reiterating in the Sunday Times that he would also resign this week for the same reason.

Mr Johnson has said the UK must leave the EU by the deadline of 31 October “do or die, come what may”. Mr Hunt has said he too is prepared to leave with no deal, but would accept a further delay, if required, to get a new withdrawal deal. The EU has repeatedly said it will not re-open negotiations on the deal agreed with Mrs May. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson insisted a deal could be reached by 31 October if the country “rediscovers its sense of mission”. “We can come out of the EU on 31 October, and yes, we certainly have the technology to do so,” he wrote. What we need now is the will and the spirit.” That message of optimism was echoed by one of his supporters, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who told  the leadership frontrunner had the national self belief” the country needed.

“We’ve risen to greater challenges before in the past. We should manage the risk but also grasp the opportunities which we don’t get a chance to talk enough about,” Mr Raab added. Meanwhile, two former Labour prime ministers have warned about what they see as the dangers of leaving the EU without a deal. Writing in the Times, Tony Blair said a no-deal exit could range from being “very difficult” to “catastrophic”. “No-one knows with certainty the impact of no deal for the simple reason that no developed nation has ever left overnight its preferential trading arrangements in this manner,” he wrote. Mr Blair added that there was “no prospect” of a new deal with the EU that Mr Johnson would approve of, arguing that instead, another Brexit referendum was the solution. Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is to claim in a speech in London that leaving without a deal would push the British economy “off a cliff”.

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