The leadership candidates’ hardening of position on the controversial Irish backstop is “significant”, ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve has said.

He said the views of Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson expressed at a debate seemed to rule out any compromise.

They both declared the backstop “dead” and rejected the idea of a time limit, which the BBC’s Norman Smith said was a “huge heave” towards no deal.

But Mr Grieve warned that a government seeking a no-deal Brexit will collapse.

The Remain-supporting MP said he believed more Conservative colleagues, including current front benchers, will join him in attempts to prevent the UK leaving on 31 October without a deal.

No ‘escape hatches’

The backstop, included in the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, is designed as an

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