Boris Johnson was ridiculed as he failed to turn up to the first televised debate between Conservative leadership candidates.
The frontrunner was represented by an empty podium during the Channel 4 debate, which saw Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid clash on Brexit.
Delaying his answer to a question about businesses handling Brexit, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked: “Where is Boris?”
He added: “We’ve been talking about Brexit for 25 minutes now.
“If his team won’t allow him out to debate with five pretty friendly colleagues, how’s he going to fare with 27 European countries?
“He should be here to answer that very question.”
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said he hoped that “one of us” became prime minister – making it clear he would not welcome a Johnson victory.
He has also said he would not serve in a Johnson cabinet.
Giving his opinion on how to deliver Brexit, Home Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to criticise Theresa May as he said the “number one mistake was not properly planning for no-deal”.
He said that a no-deal Brexit was the “last thing” he wanted to see, adding: “You do plan for no deal precisely because you want a deal.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that for him, Brexit was “personal” because “I led the Leave campaign”.
Dominic Raab once again refused to rule out suspending Parliament to push a no-deal Brexit through, saying Britain “can manage” the risks attached.
Attacking Mr Raab, Rory Stewart said suspending Parliament would be “undemocratic” and “strike at the heart of our constitution”.
He added that the “problem with no deal is that big word no”.
“It’s a no to Europe, it’s a no to trade, and it’s actually a no to detail, because nobody’s explaining what the tariff schedules are going to be,” he said.
He continued: “I believe in a country that says yes. Yes to trade, yes to a deal, yes to opportunity.”
Referring to the four other debaters, Mr Stewart added: “They think they are threatening something but a threat is not credible unless it can be delivered.”
Jeremy Hunt said that shutting Parliament would be a “profound mistake” and “wrong”, while Mr Javid also ruled it out.
Michael Gove claimed he could “can get the European Union to change their approach”.
He added: “We cannot leave unless Parliament votes for it”.
Addressing Mr Raab, he said no-deal could not be pushed through “against the will of Parliament”.
Boris Johnson was ridiculed as he failed to turn up to the first televised debate between Conservative leadership candidates. The frontrunner was represented by an empty podium during the Channel 4 debate, which saw Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid clash on Brexit.