The announcement comes after a weekend in which Mr Hunt angered many small businesses across the country by saying that he would essentially allow them to go bust in order to ensure that the UK leave the EU by October 31 without a deal.
The UK Foreign Secretary and candidate for the country’s next Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt, outlined what he has described as a “comprehensive plan” in the event that Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.
In a speech on Monday, Mr Hunt said that he is committed to protecting Britain’s farming and fishing industries by offering them a £6 billion stimulus package in the event that the country crashes out of the EU without a deal on October 31. Hunt also pledged what was in effect a £13 billion corporation tax cut in order to “fire up” the economy in response to the fears of some that a no-deal outcome could weaken the legs of British industry. Many will naturally see the policy as an attempt to win over traditional Conservative voters as Mr Hunt locks horns with his Tory party rival and Brexiteer-in-chief, Boris Johnson.
“If you’re a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fisherman in Peterhead I have a simple message for you, I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal,” Mr Hunt declared.
“I will mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit on you and step in to help smooth those short term difficulties. If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fisherman, farmers and small businesses now,” he added.
During the speech, Hunt called for the “immediate ramping up of no-deal preparations,” saying that Britain needs a leader who is “prepared to put in the hard yards preparing for a no-deal Brexit,” underscoring that point by adding that, “you cannot leave the EU on a wing and a prayer.”
Furthermore, and in a sharp departure from his previous positions – which were often seen as more sympathetic to the Remain side of the Brexit debate – Mr Hunt attempted to appeal to Eurosceptics by floating the idea of withholding the UK’s £39 billion so-called ‘divorce bill’ if a no-deal Brexit scenario materialises into reality. Mr Hunt has repeatedly said in the past that a no-deal Brexit is not his desired option, but that it is necessary to prepare for the possibility.
In another move, Mr Hunt declared that he is planning to establish a no-deal Cabinet Task Force, which would be given broad authority to devise policies aimed at mitigating the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the country’s small businesses and economy at large.
As it stands, Boris Johnson has the lead over Jeremy Hunt in the Tory party leadership contest, with the former being the favourite candidate among Brexiteers. Yet, Hunt has stepped up his attempts in recent days to appeal to that constituency by employing more uncompromising rhetoric, saying during an interview over the weekend that, “at the beginning of October, if there is no prospect of a deal that can get through parliament, then I will leave at the end of October because that is our democratic promise to the British people.”
Yet, despite his grand pledges on a no-deal Brexit, there are those in the Leave camp who meet Mr Hunt’s words with a degree of scepticism.