'MPs URGE JOHNSON TO GUARANTEE BREXIT DATE'
Tory supporters campaign for leadership contender to pledge EU departure will take place by Oct 31
By Edward Malnick
Sunday Telegraph – 22 June 2019
Boris Johnson is facing a public campaign by his supporters to guarantee to deliver Brexit by Oct 31 if he becomes Prime Minister, the Sunday Telegraph can disclose. In a bid to pile pressure on Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, more than a dozen Conservative MPs have pledged to "stand up for Brexit" in a reprisal of a grassroots campaign that previously foreshadowed the defeat of Theresa May's deal with the EU in the Commons.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory Leader, and Priti Patel, the ex-International Development Secretary, pledge their support in an article for this newspaper.
Steve Baker, the Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group, also signed up to the campaign last night, along with Julian Lewis, the Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee.
All are supporters of Mr Johnson, who is attempting to hold together a coalition of 160 Eurosceptic and pro-EU MPs who backed him in the final round of voting among Tory parliamentarians on Thursday. Their pledges suggest a new Prime Minister would lose their support if he failed to secure Brexit by Oct 31, the current deadline agreed with the EU.
Mr Johnson has privately assured Brexiteers that he would meet the deadline. But in a television debate last week he instead said that it was "eminently feasible". Yesterday, after a leadership hustings in Birmingham, Mr Johnson tweeted:
"I'll deliver Brexit by 31st October."
A ComRes poll of Conservative councillors for today's Telegraph found that 83 per cent believe that the party's next Leader
"must deliver Brexit on or before 31 October".
Writing in this newspaper, Mr Duncan Smith and Ms Patel state:
"Our campaign calls on the next leader and Prime Minister to take us out of the EU by October 31, come what may."
Mr Baker warned that the party
"cannot allow any room for misunderstanding by the EU".
Craig Mackinlay and Peter Bone, both Tory members of the Commons Brexit committee, also pledged their support last night, along with Marcus Fysh, Laurence Robertson, Andrea Jenkyns, Adam Holloway, Andrew Rosindell and Christopher Chope.
The StandUp4Brexit campaign was set up by activists last year and is being reprised in response to growing pressure for the party to deliver Brexit by the autumn. Some 59 MPs made a similar pledge last year before voting against Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement. Mr Hunt said that if there was no prospect of a deal by Oct 31 "I would leave", but he would want to avoid "the disruption of no deal" if it was a case of delaying by a short period.
Meanwhile, Dominic Grieve, the anti-Brexit former Attorney General, yesterday said that he and other Tory MPs would vote against Mr Johnson on a motion of No Confidence if he attempted to pursue a no-deal exit.