SWINDON MPs have thrown their weight behind frontrunner Boris Johnson in the race to become Conservative Party leader.

The former foreign secretary has said he would be prepared to leave the EU on no-deal terms on October 31. And Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson’s support for Mr Johnson was criticised by town politicians, with anger at plans to cut taxes for around three million higher earners.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who fought for Remain at the 2016 EU referendum, was last night forced to defend Mr Johnson’s policy on Brexit. The former London Mayor told the Sunday Times last weekend he would be prepared to leave the European Union without a deal.

Mr Buckland said: “I continue to oppose a crash-out Brexit. His policy is to seek to get a deal.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson did not respond to the Adver’s request for comment on Mr Johnson’s attitude towards a no-deal Brexit.

Writing for website ConservativeHome, Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson said former London Mayor Boris Johnson was the “best choice for prime minister”.

Mr Johnson remains the front runner among the 10 candidates in the Tory leadership race. They wrote: “The task is now on to choose the best person to lead our country and our party through these unprecedented circumstances, delivering Brexit so that people can once again begin to see the excitement and progress the Conservative Party can deliver. We believe that person is Boris Johnson.”

Mr Buckland and Mr Tomlinson added: “We are looking for a prime minister who will seek to reach agreement with the EU, who will be realistic and honest in that process and who will be able to unite the nation behind any deal that is done.”

The pair praised Mr Johnson’s record as London mayor, saying he was able to speak directly to voters.

But the candidate yesterday drew the ire of Swindon politicians and campaigners.

Former Ukip parliamentary candidate Martin Costello, now a Brexit Party campaigner, said he had serious concerns about Mr Johnson: “Twice he voted against Mrs May’s new 'European surrender treaty', the worst deal in history and then on a third occasion, he voted for it. He must not be trusted.”

Jamie Taylor, for the Swindon Liberal Democrats, added: “We can see exactly how businesses like Honda are leaving Swindon when our MPs are standing against them and not with them to provide the jobs and security to the people of Swindon.”

Sarah Church, Labour’s South Swindon MP hopeful, criticised the Boris’s claim he would increase the 40p income tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000 if he became prime minister. “I’m just astonished. This will sit firmly on the shoulders of Swindon residents. They will be the ones paying for tax cuts for the richest,” she said.

Yesterday, no-one the Adver spoke to in Swindon town centre had a good word to say about Brexit.

Paul Stoneham, 45, said: “I don’t want to leave at all. It’s a complete disaster. I think it’s a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

Anthony Thompkins, 57, said: “I don’t think we should be leaving. There was no explanation of why it’s better to leave. If we don’t know what we’re jumping from, I don’t think we should jump.”

Former foreign secretary William Hague warned that the next Tory leader can only survive if they have a clear plan to end the deadlock over Brexit. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague said that without a proper plan for dealing with Brexit, the next PM would head a “sandcastle administration”.

Ten candidates will go into the first round of voting on Thursday.