BORIS Johnson has arrived to officially launch his leadership campaign to become Britain’s next prime minister.
He will pitch his bold vision for a post-Brexit Britain and insist he’s the only one who can see off Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage to give the Tories their mojo back.
The frontrunner in the race for No10 will this morning formally launch his campaign – warning: “Kick the can and we kick the bucket.”
Boris will today point to his track record beating Labour’s Ken Livingstone in London as proof he can see of Mr Corbyn.
He is expected to say: “The last time I faced an emanation of that Marxist cabal I defeated him when the Conservatives were 17 points behind in London. And we can do it again.”
And pledging to take us out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, Mr Johnson will blast: “We simply will not get a result if we give the slightest hint that we want to go on kicking the can down the road with yet more delay.
“Delay means defeat. Delay means Corbyn. Kick the can and we kick the bucket.”
He is also expected to lay out more of his policy agenda – and could reveal whether or not he’ll press ahead with a controversial plan to cut taxes for higher earners.
And he got a boost from a poll which suggested he is the only contender who could win a solid Commons majority for the Tories.
With just a day before the first vote tomorrow:
- Boris Johnson would lead the Tories to a Thatcher-style landslide and wipe out the Brexit Party, a new poll suggested today
- Michael Gove‘s wife defended his “honesty” after he admitted taking cocaine
- Jeremy Hunt won the backing of top Remainer Greg Clark
- Sajid Javid launched his campaign calling himself “tomorrow’s leader, today”
- Remainer MPs staged a bid to rule out No Deal Brexit and tie the new PM’s hands
A ComRes poll for the Daily Telegraph found that Boris is the candidate who would boost the Tories at the polls the most.
If Mr Johnson became PM, 37 per cent of voters said they would vote Tory with Labour on 22 per cent, Lib Dems 20 per cent and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party getting 14 per cent.
According to Electoral Calculus, that would give the Conservatives 395 seats – far ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 151.
The Brexit Party would fail to pick up a single MP if those results came to pass.
The 140-seat majority would be the Tories’ largest since Margaret Thatcher smashed Labour in 1983.
But some other pollsters warned against drawing firm conclusions based on the hypothetical results of a single survey.
Kick the can and we kick the bucket
‘WE MUST LEAVE’
Today Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary who has been masterminding the EU withdrawal agreement, announced he was supporting Boris.
He said: “We must leave on the October 31 – any further delays will continue to fracture public trust in not only our democratic system but also the Conservative party.
“We need a leader who will deliver Brexit and who has the ability to defeat both Corbyn and Farage.”
Treasury Secretary Liz Truss added that the Halloween deadline for Brexit was a “do-or-die date”.
The Sun revealed today that an array of top business bosses are backing Boris as the leader to “inspire” Britain.
Even MPs who don’t support him are increasingly concluding that his victory is incredible – one told The Sun: “Of course Boris is going to win, as long as he doesn’t drop the vase again.”
Mr Gove is still battling to rescue his campaign after he was forced to admit taking cocaine.
Today his wife, journalist Sarah Vine, came to his defence and insisted he was right to come clean about his past.
Describing how her “ashen-faced” husband faced the initial drug claims, she wrote in the Daily Mail: “Just be honest, I told him. Tell the truth on television, rather than shy away or dodge questions.
“Face up to it and accept the consequences, however embarrassing and damaging they may be.
“It would have been better, of course, not to have done it in the first place. But given that he did, lying about it would only make things worse.”
Mr Hunt is positioning himself to take on Boris in the final shortlist of two after Mr Gove’s struggles.
Today Business Secretary Greg Clark endorsed him, saying: “I feel Jeremy has a clear understanding of how important it is to have a deal and to pursue the trading relationship with the EU that I believe is vital.”
Mr Javid will hold his campaign launch this afternoon, asking MPs to shun the “short-term, comfort zone choice” of Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.
He is set to say: “A leader is not just for Christmas, or just for Brexit.”
Timetable of Tory leadership election which will pick new PM
June 7: Theresa May stood down as party leader but will continue as PM until her successor is elected
June 10: Nominations for the leadership closed with ten candidates entering the race
June 13: First ballot of MPs, open 10am-12pm; any candidate with fewer than 13 votes eliminated
June 18: Second ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; any candidate with fewer than 33 votes eliminated
June 19: Third ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated
June 20: Fourth ballot (if needed), open 10am-12pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated – any further ballots needed will also take place on this day
June 22: Second stage begins where votes shift from MPs to party activists who will choose between final two candidates
July 22: Result announced this week, in time for Commons recess to begin
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Tomorrow morning Tory MPs hold their first ballot in the leadership election with ten candidates still in the race.
Any contender who fails to win the support of at least 17 colleagues will be knocked out.
The remaining challengers will go forward to a second ballot on Tuesday with the final shortlist of two set to be picked by the end of next week.