POLITICS
01/07/2019 11:00 BST

Matt Hancock Defends Support For Boris Johnson Despite Recent Warnings

"You’ve got to look forward in life."

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Matt Hancock has defended throwing his support behind Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership contest despite having previously been highly critical of the former foreign secretary.

The health secretary dropped out of the race in an earlier round after failing to secure enough support.

During his brief run, Hancock warned shutting down parliament to force a no-deal Brexit would betray everything British soldiers at D-Day “fought and died” for.

And to Johnson’s claim he would say “fuck business” to companies that complained a hard Brexit would damage the economy, Hancock said: “Fuck ‘fuck business’.”

But speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Monday morning, Hancock said he now backed Johnson because “you’ve got to look forward in life”.

Asked about Johnson’s “fuck business” comment, Hancock said: “He’s an extraordinary communicator. He communicates more than almost anybody.”

Johnson has not ruled out proroguing parliament - closing it down - but despite his past dire warnings about such a move, Hancock would only say this morning that he did “not think” it would happen.

“I clearly made my case to win but I didn’t get the support in order to be able to proceed,” Hancock added. “And then you deal with the world as it is.”

Hancock is seen to be vying for the role of chancellor under Johnson. Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss are also said to be in the frame for the plum job.

It comes as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has warned Scottish independence and a push for Irish reunification were “real threats” of a no-deal Brexit.

“It’s not good enough to simply say we are going to have a no-deal; we need to prepare about it, that’s what government is all about,” he told the BBC.

Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s rival for the leadership, has pledged to create a £6 billion war chest to handle a no-deal exit.

Food producers should be treated like the financial services industry during the 2008 financial crash, the Tory leadership candidate is expected to tell supporters.

Hunt will set out a 10-point plan, including a Cobra-style committee to “turbocharge” Whitehall preparations and keep Britain open for business in the event of World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs coming into effect.

“You cannot leave the European Union on a wing and a prayer,” he is expected to say. “Britain deserves better.”