Boris’ former campaign manager ‘hasn’t decided yet’ whether to back him again

Boris Johnson’s former campaign manager “hasn’t decided yet” whether to back him again in his latest Conservative Party leadership bid.

And ardent Brexiteer Liam Fox has announced he is backing Jeremy Hunt, who recently described a no-deal Brexit as “political suicide”.

Security minister Ben Wallace ran Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign in 2016 and threatened to go “Game Of Thrones” on Michael Gove after he scuppered his candidate’s chances, opening the door for Theresa May’s coronation.

Security Minister Ben Wallace
Security minister Ben Wallace (John Stillwell/PA)

Mr Wallace would only say he had not yet decided whether to back Mr Johnson when asked directly on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said: “I haven’t made a decision yet.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“The one thing I have learned from being inside a campaign is we’ve got another 10 days – your listeners will be dead bored.

“What we do need to do is make sure this race is about getting the right person to lead the country, but I’m not going to bang on about it.”

Meanwhile, International Trade Secretary Dr Fox announced he is backing Mr Hunt because he wants to steer away from a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking on the Today programme, Dr Fox accepted that the UK having different regulatory standards from the EU would mean border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which he said was why a Brexit deal was his preferred option.

Although he said the UK had to be “willing to walk away”, he warned a no-deal Brexit could be used by independence campaigners in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

He said: “I think the prospect of a no deal might well be used by those who seek to break up the UK, to use that as a weapon in that particular battle, both I think in Northern Ireland and potentially in Scotland.”

Dr Fox said he was backing Mr Hunt due to his ability to make deals.

He said: “In this contest I’ll be backing my friend Jeremy Hunt, who is an impressive Foreign Secretary, who is an entrepreneur by background where deal-making is part of his DNA.

“I think he understands we have to message to Europe that we will leave if we cannot get an appropriate deal but we will try to get a deal.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Joe Giddens/PA)

Dr Fox also insisted the NHS and food standards will be protected in any post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

He said: “Trade agreements generally have provisions about the regulation of public services … provisions to ensure governments retain control of public regulation, including the NHS.”

On issues such as chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef, he added: “We have made very clear that, without exception, imports into the UK must meet the UK’s stringent food standards and that is not going to change.”

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