27/05/2019 22:13 BST | Updated 28/05/2019 09:51 BST

Jeremy Hunt Warns Tories Risk 'Political Suicide' If They Push For No-Deal Brexit

"The only way to prove Nigel Farage wrong is to deliver Brexit."

Jeremy Hunt has warned pushing through a no-deal Brexit would be “political suicide” after the Conservatives’ disastrous performance in the European election.

In a strongly-worded column for The Telegraph, the foreign secretary said any such move risks the “extinction” of the Tories and “the only way to prove Nigel Farage wrong is to deliver Brexit”.

Anything else could trigger a general election and lead to the UK’s “first Marxist prime minister”, he warns.

Hunt adds: “The results contain a simple message which we ignore at our peril: if we attempt a general election before we have delivered Brexit we will be annihilated.

“Trying to deliver no deal through a general election is not a solution. It is political suicide, that would delight Nigel Farage and probably put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10 by Christmas.” 

The Tories are in crisis mode, taking their worst ever national election share in the European elections, with just 9.1% of the vote in England and Wales.

Compounding the situation is May’s announcement last week that she will step down as PM on June 7, triggering what will be a fierce Tory leadership contest.

Hunt is one of nine Tory MPs to officially declare and his latest statements put him at odds with other contenders such Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey, who have all said a no-deal is still on the table.

McVey hit out Hunt over the article, tweeting: “Political suicide actually lies in not having a clean break from the EU and not leaving on October 31.”

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party swept to victory in the European elections, a result that could persuade some Tories to double-down on a no-deal.

Tim Bale, politics professor at the Queen Mary University of London, told HuffPost UK last week: “For the Conservative Party, they are in such a panic mode at the moment that they are likely to chase the Brexit Party down the even harder Brexit path,” says Professor Bale

“In other words what they will try to do is try and prevent Farage from stealing all their voters in the long term by moving towards the vision the Brexit Party has on the EU.”