Maria Miller has thrown her support behind Boris Johnson as the Conservative leadership candidate to become the UK's next Prime Minister.

The Basingstoke MP said Mr Johnson would complete Brexit in a "swifter" fashion than his rival Jeremy Hunt. 

The Conservative Party's 160,000 members will begin voting next week with Theresa May's successor expected to be announced on July 23. 

Speaking to the Gazette, Mrs Miller said: "Both candidates have the ability to unite the party and will have Brexit at the top of their agenda."

The Chair of the Women's and Equalities Select Committee said it was vital that Brexit was completed to break the impasse and enable parliament to focus on other matters. 

"There is a clear message from the business community and people of Basingstoke that they want a resolution after three years of this. We must get on with it," she said.

Mrs Miller added: "I would urge my fellow MPs to support any agreements on withdrawing the EU. I supported Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement at every stage because I recognise it is what the country wants." 

On why she decided to support Mr Johnson over his competitor, she said: "Mr Johnson has a robust and clear vision for exiting the European Union. It is my belief he will be able to carry out a swifter Brexit." 

Yesterday Mr Johnson vowed to leave 'come what may' by October 31.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Johnson said it was important to have a 'hard deadline' for leaving, adding that previous no-deal preparations had 'sagged back down' after exit dates were not met.

A no-deal exit on October 31 remains the default position in UK law after MPs rejected the agreement Theresa May agreed with Brussels three times.

If that does happen, the UK will automatically begin trading with the EU under the basic World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The constituency of Basingstoke and Deane showed strong support for exiting the European Union in May, with the Brexit Party triumphing with 17,295 votes. The remain-supporting Liberal Democrats came second with 12,336 votes.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, trailed behind in third place with 6,053 votes.