Conservative leadership: 10 Tory candidates and their Brexit plans

A combination of pictures created in London on June 10, 2019 shows 9 of the 10 declared contenders the Conservative Party leadership contest: (top L-R) Conservativer MP Boris Johson,...

Where do the 10 remaining Tory leadership candidates stand on Brexit?

The Conservative Party leadership race is underway after 10 MPs put their name forward. Any potential candidates needed the backing of eight MPs to enter the race with Sam Gyimah, James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse dropping out.

10 candidates remain and they will face their first vote on Thursday 13 June. Round by round, the MPs will be whittled down until two remain. The final two candidates will take part in televised debates as they vie to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and the new Prime Minister.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson leaves a house in London on June 7, 2019. - Boris Johnson, considered the frontrunner to become Britain's next prime minister, is Friday challenging a private...

Brexit has unsurprisingly dominated the Tory leadership discussion so far. Candidates will be judged by their proposed plans for no-deal Brexit and how to solve the Irish border conundrum. Here are the 10 contenders and their respective positions on Brexit.

No-deal Brexit

What is No-Deal Brexit?

Since the results of the 2016 referendum, the UK and the EU have been negotiating for a withdrawal agreement. A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK leaves the EU on 31 October without an agreement in place. Parliament has already voted down a no-deal Brexit but this possibility could arise again.

Who backs a No-Deal Brexit?

Dominic Raab could prorogue (suspend) parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit without other MPs blocking it; this tactic has been publicly condemned by Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab launches his leadership campaign in London on June 10, 2019. - Around a dozen British Conservative MPs will formally throw their hats into the ring on Monday...

Esther McVey wants to deliver Brexit by 31 October and will back no-deal. Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom also want to leave on 31 October with or without a deal.

Who sits on the fence?

Several candidates do not advocate no-deal but have admitted it is on the table if it comes down to a case of no-deal or no Brexit. Michael Gove, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid have all kept the door open for no-deal Brexit if an agreement cannot be reached.

Mark Harper MP walks through the media as he prepares to formally launch his bid to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, on June 11,...

Who wants to avoid a No-Deal Brexit?

Rory Stewart wants to avoid a 'catastrophic' no-deal Brexit and he will resign from the cabinet if Boris Johnson becomes PM.

Matt Hancock has also ruled out a no-deal Brexit; he believes that parliament will block it.

Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State, arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on June 11, 2019 in London, England. Since Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister the final...

Theresa May's withdrawal agreement

What is the withdrawal agreement?

While she was PM, Theresa May negotiated a 'withdrawal agreement' with the EU. This 500-plus-page dossier detailed the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, including the backstop, the status of Gibraltar, and the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. May put the withdrawal agreement in front of parliament three times and it was rejected each time.

Who backs the withdrawal agreement?

Rory Stewart wants to give the withdrawal agreement another chance. If he becomes the next PM, he will try to convince parliament that this is the most feasible solution to the Brexit impasse as the EU have said they will not renegotiate.

Rory Stewart OBE MP, Secretary of State for International Development formally launches his bid to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom...

Who wants to make changes?

Andrea Leadsom has described May's withdrawal agreement as "dead" but could use it as her basis to renegotiate certain elements for the benefit of the UK.

Jeremy Hunt is also hoping to make amendments to May's withdrawal agreement by sending a new team (including some DUP members) to Brussels for negotiations.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on June 11, 2019 in London, England. Since Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister the final candidates for...

Boris Johnson says the UK will not pay the £39 billion divorce settlement for leaving the EU.

Meanwhile, Esther McVey is willing to reopen negotiations with the EU if they are willing to compromise.

Delaying Brexit beyond 31 October

What is the 31 October deadline?

After Theresa May triggered Article 50, the UK was supposed to leave the EU by March 2019. Instead of revoking Article 50, the UK sought an extension, which was granted by the other EU countries. The new deadline is Halloween - 31 October. 

Who wants to leave before 31 October?

Dominic Raab, Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid all plan to leave before the 31 October deadline. Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom wants a 'managed exit' by 31 October.

Esther McVey wants Brexit finalised swiftly so that the Conservative Party can work on uniting the nation.


Who would delay beyond the 31 October?

Matt Hancock, Jeremy Hunt and Mark Harper all want to deliver Brexit before 31 October but have not ruled out delaying if this is not feasible.

Michael Gove is also prepared to seek a delay. Rory Stewart does not believe a new deal can be reached by this new deadline so he would also push the deadline back.

The backstop

What is the backstop?

The UK only has one hard border - between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - and this has proved to be a stumbling block during the negotiations with the EU. The backstop, which is part of the withdrawal agreement, is an insurance policy to prevent a physical border between the UK and Ireland. This will be in place until the UK's future relationship with the EU has been resolved.

What are the candidates saying about the backstop?

Rory Stewart is the sole candidate who wants to keep May's withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, the same.

Dominic Raab is ready to bring the 'Malthouse Compromise' back to the table - this would replace the backstop with an alternative plan, involving checks on products away from the border.

Michael Gove could propose another alternative to the backstop: 'The Stormont Lock'. This is the idea that if Northern Ireland is forced to amend its trade rules by the EU, the whole of the UK must follow suit.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove gives a speech as he officially launches his Conservative leadership bid at the Sky Loft in Millbank Tower on June 10, 2019 in London, England.

Boris Johnson wants a 'managed exit' as a solution to the Irish border. He would replace the backstop with an alternative arrangement which would avoid a hard border.

Mark Harper will attempt to build a much stronger relationship with Ireland as part of his backstop renegotiation.

Sajid Javid wants to create a 'digitised' Irish border within the next two years, which he has offered to pay for as a 'goodwill gesture'.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on June 11, 2019 in London, England. Since Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister the final candidates for...

Esther McVey wants the EU to remove the backstop as part of the withdrawal negotiations. Instead, McVey's plan is for an 'invisible border' to be in place.

Matt Hancock will set up an Irish Border Council to negotiate the future of the border. This is part of his plan to impose a time limit on the backstop.

Jeremy Hunt does not think the backstop plan will pass through parliament. Instead, he will push for changes as part of his amended withdrawal agreement.

Andrea Leadsom also wants to renegotiate the backstop. She is planning on making several changes to the withdrawal agreement and wants alternative arrangements for the border.

Former Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom formally launches her bid to become the new leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, on June 11, 2019...

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