Chancellor Philip Hammond has hinted he could try to topple the next government if it meant averting a no-deal Brexit.
Warning that “national interest trumps the party interest”, Hammond told Sky News he would back a no-confidence vote in the next Prime Minister to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal.
So far Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson, Esther McVey and Dominic Raab have committed to a no-deal Brexit if the UK reaches its departure date of 31 October without a withdrawal agreement.
“We need to get the spectre of a no-deal exit off the table,” Hammond told the BBC this morning.
“Leaving with no deal would be a very bad outcome for the economy.”
Speaking to Sky News, he added that he is currently meeting all 11 Conservative party leader candidates to decide who he should throw his support behind.
While actively opposing the next government is not something Hammondf would choose to do “lightly or enthusiastically”, he said a no-deal Brexit is “not in Britain’s interests”.
“I would not support a policy of no-deal by choice,” he added.
“I couldn't support a government policy stance that said as a matter of choice we are going to pursue a no-deal exit.”
Former foreign secretary Johnson has insisted he must keep the threat of a no-deal Brexit on the table in order to secure a deal with the EU.
Ex-Brexit secretary Raab, and junior Brexit minister James Cleverly, have also committed to no deal as better than no Brexit.
Raab has said he would be “resolute” in seeking a Brexit by any means by the 31 October departure deadline.
The Institute for Government has warned it would be “a near impossible task” for MPs to prevent a Prime Minister who plans to leave the EU with no deal in place.
Prime Minister Theresa May will step down as party leader on 7 June before the Tory leadership contest gets into full swing from 10 June.
The Conservative Party wants to wrap up the contest by the end of July.