Boris Johnson has said it would be “absolutely folly” to rule out suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit against the will of MPs.
The former foreign secretary said in a Tory leadership hustings on Thursday that the controversial measure should remain as “an essential tool of our negotiation”.
The MP has previously declined to rule it out, but the comments appear to be the strongest signal he has given that “proroguing” Parliament should remain an option.
Mr Johnson said he wanted to be the prime minister of a “representative democracy, a great representative democracy in which we believe in our elected representatives to take the right decision”.
“I would rather than confiding in this archaic device to get this thing done at my own behest, I would rather confide in the maturity of common sense of parliamentarians, all of whom are now staring down the barrel of public distrust,” he said.
But he was challenged to categorically rule out taking the drastic measure.
“I’m not attracted to the idea of a no-deal exit from the EU but, you know, I think it would be absolutely folly to rule it out. I think it’s an essential tool of our negotiation,” he replied.
“I don’t envisage the circumstances in which it will be necessary to prorogue Parliament, nor am I attracted to that expedient.”
Since-eliminated contenders for the Tory crown – including Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart and Michael Gove – have previously roundly criticised the notion, which could drag the Queen into a constitutional crisis.
Mr Johnson’s comments came after he pledged to take the UK out of the EU by the Halloween deadline “do or die”, regardless of whether he could negotiate a new deal with Brussels.
On Thursday he also stuck by his comments that the chances of a no-deal exit were “a million-to-one against”.