Brexit in October a 'hard red line', says leadership hopeful Leadsom

Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson

With 10 contenders confirmed for the first round of voting on Thursday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has released a video ahead of his campaign launch on Wednesday, featuring his family home in Bristol - and even their pet dog.

Gove, the environment minister, co-led the Leave side back in 2016, but also backed May's unpopular European Union exit deal, tarnishing his image among Tory Brexiteers.

"That isn't credible by October 31 and there won't be a majority in Parliament to let us leave without a deal".

"I'm the Brexiteer that you can rely on", he said. "However, no deal must not be ruled out, should we be faced with a choice between no deal and no Brexit", Harper said, according to excerpts distributed by his office.

The uncertainty has hit Britain's economy, which shrank by 0.4 percent in April, official figures showed on Monday - a bigger drop than any economist had forecast in a Reuters poll last week.

The favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister has been accused of avoiding scrutiny by hiding away from the Tory leadership contest.

He did not launch his campaign with a high-profile appearance but instead outlined his plans in a newspaper column and interview.

He has also tried to appeal to the British middle class by promising to cut taxes for people who earn more than €56,000 a year in a move set to cost Britain's treasury about €11bn a year.

Gove, again one of his main rivals for the leadership, on Monday taunted Johnson: "If I get through, which I am sure I will, actually, to the final two against Mr Johnson, this is what I will say to him: 'Mr Johnson, whatever you do, don't pull out".

Others took aim at Johnson, a flamboyant former London mayor, alluding to past criticism that he favored style over substance and failed to grasp details.

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"We won't get a good deal with bluff and bluster", said Raab, one of the most hardline Brexit advocates. Hunt, another of the favorites, said "a serious moment calls for a serious leader".

"We need someone who has been tested in the heat of battle. not someone who will hide in their bunker", said Gove, who also criticized Johnson directly for his newly announced proposal of cutting taxes for the rich.

He received a boost with the endorsement of euroskeptic Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt, although he is likely to anger some in the ruling party by refusing to rule out another Brexit delay.

Mr Gove is also facing pressure after acknowledging that he took cocaine a couple of times before entering politics.

Leadsom quit as leader of the House of Commons on May 22, triggering the prime minister's downfall the next day.

"We need someone who has been tested in the heat of battle. not someone who will hide in their bunker", said Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who had directly criticised Johnson for his newly-announced proposal of cutting taxes for the rich. Gove had made a decision to run for premiership three years ago and this put a dampener on Johnson's chances then.

"One thing I will never do as prime minister is use our tax and benefits system to give the already wealthy another tax cut", Gove pledged in a campaign-launching speech on Monday in an apparent dig at Johnson, who promised an income tax cut for high earners.

The 150,000 or so Conservative party members will then elect Britain's new leader and the man or woman who is to steer them through Brexit, after Theresa May resigned this month following a series of parliamentary defeats and cabinet resignations over her EU exit vision, as well as a disastrous showing in the recent European Parliament elections.

Conservative MPs who want to replace her must have the backing of eight other party colleagues to get to the next stage of the contest.

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