Jeremy Hunt has pledged a £6bn no-deal Brexit ‘war chest’ to help protect the farming and fishing industries as he warned against leaving the European Union on “a wing and a prayer”.
The Tory leadership hopeful will on Monday lay out his plans if the UK leaves the bloc on October 31 without an agreement with Brussels. It will include a ‘stimulus package’ likened to the bail-out offered to the financial sector after 2008′s crash.
In contrast to rival Boris Johnson’s “do or die” approach, Hunt says he would prefer to leave with a deal - but says a leader must have the “courage” to “walk away”.
If elected Prime Minister, Hunt will also lead an emergency Cobra-style committee to “turbocharge” Whitehall preparations, as well as holding a no deal budget and creating a national logistics committee to keep Britain open for business.
In a speech, the MP will spell out how the food and agricultural industry will be supported if the UK has to move on to World Trade Organisation tariffs.
He will say: “If you’re a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fishermen in Peterhead I have a simple message for you. I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal.
“I will mitigate the impact of no deal Brexit on you and step in to help smooth those short term difficulties. If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fisherman, farmers and small businesses now.”
Similar support packages have been offered by US president Donald Trump, who provided a $16bn package for farmers impacted by Chinese tariffs.
His proposed National Logistics Committee, led by the Department for Transport, will produce a plan to keep goods flowing in and out of the UK in the event of no deal, and could include emergency powers to ensure ports and airports are running.
A no-deal Brexit budget will include cutting corporation tax cut to 12.5 per cent, increasing the annual allowance to £5 million and taking 90 per cent of high street businesses out of rates.
Hunt will say: “Britain deserves a leader who works tirelessly to get a deal. But who is prepared to put the hard yards in preparing for no deal.
“I have made it clear that my preference is for us to leave with a new deal. One that removes the backstop and ensures we have a fully independent trade policy. And if the Commission engages in good faith I believe this is possible.
“But Britain deserves a leader with the courage to not just tell the European Commission he will walk away. But to show them he is willing and able to do so.
“Because in the end, without those abilities, without that determination, and without that plan, it is just a wing and a prayer.”
Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested Johnson’s attitude to the October 31 Brexit deadline is not the right approach,
Johnson has also refused to rule out ignoring MPs and proroguing parliament to ram through a no deal should he fail to win support.
When asked if this was the best approach to Brexit as she arrived for her final European Council summit, May said the next prime minister should focus on getting a deal through parliament.
She said: “I’ve always been very clear that I think the best approach for the UK is to first of all ensure we’re delivering on the vote that took place in 2016, leaving the EU, but that we do that with a good deal so we can do it in an orderly way.
“I still think we negotiated a good deal, I wasn’t able to get a majority in parliament for that deal.
“It will be up to my successor to get that majority, deliver on the vote and take us forward.”