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Boris Johnson on Brexit: 'Do not believe that we can bodge it now and fix it later - that's a total fantasy!'

Johnson ruled out a leadership bid through telling a joke.

Updated Oct 2nd 2018, 1:51 PM

PROMINENT BREXITEER BORIS Johnson has appeared to rule out a leadership bid in the first few minutes of his much-anticipated speech at the Conservative Party Conference this afternoon.

Calling the Irish backstop “constitutionally abominable” and saying that the EU effectively wanted “to parade the UK down the street in manacles”, he called on Tory party members to “chuck Chequers” and come up with an alternative plan.

Hundreds gathered ahead of the former Foreign Minister’s address, to hear Johnson’s Brexit plan and what could become a leadership bid. Meanwhile, Tory leader Theresa May gave a speech on limiting migration in what was seen as an attempt to distract.

But Johnson ruled the leadership bid out almost from the offset, saying that the Chancellor’s prediction that “Boris Johnson would never be Prime Minister” is the only prediction the Treasury has had that has a chance of coming true. 

If I have a function here today its to put some lead into the collective pencil… and to invite you to have a realistic and justified confidence in what we can do.

He repeated the mantra “taking back control”, which was used by Leave campaigners during the 2016 referendum, calling for a desire for British sovereignty.

He said that it made sense in previous years that the UK would join the EU, but not now “when 95% of the world’s growth will be outside the EU”.

“Of course the EU will be of colossal importance to us,” he added.

Brexit speech

Boris Johnson Source: Sky News

Johnson attracted rounds of applause for a number of statements he gave on Brexit and the possible trade deals they would get, with “chuck Chequers” gathering the loudest cheers.

“This is the moment to do that there is time to chuck Chequers – to scrap the Commission’s constitutionally abominable Northern Ireland backstop, to use the otherwise redundant transition period to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement, to invest in all the customs procedures we will need to ensure frictionless trade, and to prepare much more vigorously than hitherto for coming out on WTO terms.”

World Trade Agreement (WTO) terms are those that would be automatically imposed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

During his speech, he said that “banning diabetics from driving, banning vaping, all this nonsense we would have to implement” without ability to change it themselves, under May’s Chequers plan.

That is not pragmatic – it is dangerous politically and economically. That is not democracy, that is not what we voted for.

Conservative Party annual conference 2018 Former Brexit secretary David Davis at a Boris Johnson fringe event at the Conservative Party annual conference. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“It’s a constitutional outrage – it’s not taking back control, it’s forfeiting control.

And do not believe that we can bodge it now and fix it later – get out properly next year, or the year after – that is a total fantasy! The opposite will take place.

He made criticisms of the EU and said that they wanted to punish the UK for leaving.

“What they want above all is to demonstrate is you cannot leave the EU without suffering the consequences,” he said, adding that the EU effectively wanted to parade the UK down the street in manacles.

What the Chequers plan will show is that the UK was unable to take back control.

“If we cheat the electorate, and Chequers is a cheat, we will escalate that sense of mistrust. We will give credence to those who cried betrayal and we will make it more likely that the beneficiary of Chequers is the far-right, possibly Ukip.”

Taking aim at the Labour party, Johnson said that the Tories cannot stand by and let a “cabal” of “Marxist apologists” reverse Brexit and takeover the country, calling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “a patsy of the EU”.

He also said that it was time “we brought back systematic stop-and-search that ends the politically correct nonsense, and to protect the people in our capital and elsewhere”.

Johnson resigned from May’s government after she revealed her Chequers plan for Brexit, which Johnson and other Brexiteers criticised as failing to uphold the values based on which people voted for Brexit.

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