THE Conservative MPs vying to replace Theresa May as leader and Prime Minister have clashed over delivering Brexit during a TV debate.

The MPs differed over whether a new deal could be renegotiated with the EU, and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

They appeared before a studio audience in a debate hosted by Channel 4 News.

Boris Johnson, who received the most votes from Tory MPs last week, was absent.

READ MORE: Warning for Tories if Brexit doesn't happen in October

The sharpest early exchanges were however dominated by Dominic Raab's insistence the option of proroguing Parliament should remain on the table.

"I don't think it is likely but it is not illegal," he said.

"The moment that we telegraph to the EU we are not willing to walk away at the end of October we take away our best shot of a deal."

International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said shutting down Parliament was "undemocratic" and "deeply disturbing" and would not work.

"Parliament is not a building. Parliament is our democratic representatives and they will meet regardless of what the prime minister wants," he said to applause from the studio audience.

Jeremy Hunt said it was the "wrong thing to do" while Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "You don't deliver democracy by trashing democracy. We are not selecting a dictator."

Mr Raab warned that Parliament could not stop a determined prime minister, saying: "It is near impossible to stop a government that is serious."

That drew a sharp retort from Environment Secretary Michael Gove who told him: "I will defend our democracy.

"You cannot take Britain out of the EU against the will of Parliament."

Dominic Raab, in contrast, said that "every time one of these candidates take an option away… we weaken our chances of getting the best deal."

READ MORE: Tories will be toast if no Brexit in October - Raab

The candidates also argued over a no-deal Brexit.

Home Secretary Javid said no deal was the "last thing" he wanted but added: "You do plan for no deal precisely because you want a deal."

Raab mused that Britain would be able to "manage those risks" associated with leaving the EU without a deal.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attacked Mr Johnson for dodging the debate.

"Where's Boris," he asked and suggested Mr Johnson would not be able to negotiate with Brussels if he would not even appear on a TV debate.

Mr Hunt said the next prime minister had to be prepared to sit down and negotiate with Brussels to get a better deal than that negotiated by Theresa May.

“It is fundamentally pessimistic to say we cannot do that,” he said.

Mr Gove said that he had the experience to renegotiate the controversial Northern Ireland backstop which proved the key stumbling block to getting Mrs May’s deal through Parliament.

“I would ensure we have a full stop to the backstop,” he said.

Mr Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary over Mrs May’s agreement, said that as a committed Brexiteer he could be relied on to deliver Brexit.

“I believe I am the candidate most trusted to get us out of the EU by the end of October,” he said.