Setting out his plans at the right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange, Hunt said he will devise a “provisional” no-deal Brexit “budget” in early September only to wait three weeks for the EU’s response.
If the EU does not meet Hunt’s demands then he says he will abandon talks altogether and will place the UK on a no-deal footing.
This represents a significant political shift for Hunt who for months was pushing back against the idea of a no-deal exit. But looking further back Hunt has made a career of shifting positions on key political issues.
Hunt campaigned as a Remainer at the Brexit referendum of June 2016. Since then he has steadily altered his position in keeping with the right-wing drift of the Conservative party.
The Tory leadership race onservers argue that Hunt’s swinging approach to politics may have appeased the higher reaches of the Conservative party but it remains to be seen if he can make a similar impact on the party’s grassroots in the final round of the leadership contest.
But the foreign secretary’s unprincipled approach and lack of political conviction is unlikely to impress the British public, who by all reliable accounts desire a strong leader capable of adequately managing the difficult months and years ahead.
On the issue of Brexit, Hunt’s strategy appears to be based on closing the ideological and policy gap with his rival Boris Johnson. Former London mayor and foreign secretary Johnson remains the firm favourite to become Britain’s next prime minister.