‘This is the Moment to Chuck Chequers’: Boris Comes Out Swinging in Defence of conservative Principles, Brexit

Getty Images

Former Foreign Secretary and two-time London Mayor Boris Johnson made a thinly disguised bid for leadership of the nation Tuesday afternoon at a fringe event at the annual Conservative party conference, calling for Conservatives to embrace popular policies, cut taxes, and deliver Brexit.

The would-be Conservative leader saved discussion of the foremost matter in British politics — Brexit — until the end of his speech, telling the cheering audience at the conference fringe event that May’s plan was a “cheat”, and that “this is the moment to chuck Chequers.”

Yet despite passionately arguing for a better Brexit to enthusiastic applause and cheers from the audience of Conservative party members, Johnson slammed UKIP — the party that did more than any other to bring the referendum about through decades of campaigning — as “far right”.

Making clear the urgency of getting Brexit right the first time around, Mr Johnson stated he believed there would be a permanence to the Brexit deal when it is agreed with the European Union. He told the hall the European Union had past form on bringing misbehaving members to heel, saying: “Do not believe that we can somehow get it wrong now and fix it later, get out properly next year, or the year after. Total fantasy. The opposite will happen.”

Johnson also took the opportunity during his speech to both insulate himself against the greatest accusations of naked ambition and to attack Chancellor Philip Hammond, who has led the government’s attacks against their clearly ambitious former colleague in recent days.

Making light of both Hammond himself, and the dire Brexit predictions his department has had a hand in producing, Mr Johnson said: “I want to also congratulate my friend Philip Hammond for predicting that I would never become Prime Minister, which is the first treasury forecast in a long time, I think to have a distinct ring of truth.”

The fringe speech, as anticipated, was about more than Brexit and appeared to be formed more as a vision for an alternative Conservative government, with Johnson speaking at length on the importance of home ownership.

Giving a clear pitch to millennials, the former London Mayor cited his time in that office and his record on housebuilding and referred to the Thatcherite era policy of giving government tenants the right to buy their own homes, calling for a new era of home ownership for young working people.

Although Johnson failed to mention the massive impact mass migration has had on demand for housing in Britain in recent decades, he said it was “a disgraceful fact that we now have lower rates of owner occupation for under 40s than the French or the Germans” and called building enough houses to give young people a shot at ownership “a massive opportunity for us Tories.”

Despite his strident rhetoric and pitch-making for the future of the party and country, Boris fell short of actually openly attacking Prime Minister May personally, and even offered milquetoast support, calling on followers “to back Theresa May in the best way possible, by softly, quietly, and sensibly backing her original plan.”

This story is developing


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.