BORIS Johnson may have been speaking on the fringes of the Conservative Party Conference but as far as the media and Tory Party activists were concerned he was centre-stage.
Theresa May tried her best to distract from his speech by announcing a new immigration policy which she said will “take back control of our borders”. However, this distraction bomb was far from effective.
He opened with a joke about receiving contact from “several far-left- activists on his personal mobile number, a nod to the catastrophic data splurge which saw key Tories have their phone numbers made public. As he got into the meat of the speech, he announced to laughter “I am not timid”. Brexit offers an opportunity to revitalise our “demoralised” democratic institutions worn-down by “foreign rule”. His aim was to stop the drain of self-belief and instil “quiet but legitimate confidence” in Britain
The Conservatives can take on and beat the “Tony Benn tribute act” that the Labour Party has become. We will, he said, not let Labour “anywhere near government.”Instead of aping Corbyn, the Conservatives must focus on their basic values and apply them to the problems of today. Opportunity has diminished especially for the younger generation, he said as he focused on reduced opportunities for home ownership as a key indicator of this phenomena. In this area, like many others, Labour’s instincts fundamentally clash with those of ordinary people.
He made repeated attacks on Chancellor Philip Hammond who declared yesterday that Boris would “never be Prime Minister”. Mockingly, he referred to his record as Mayor Of London saying the Chancellor might “care to consult”. The government should encourage small private builders to get to work and look at small brownfield sites as having the potential for housing development. The market should be defended as its “occasional failure” does not mean state control is better.
It is time, he said, to end the “politically correct nonsense” on stop and search that is “endangering our young peoples lives”. Cutting taxes for those on low incomes should be another priority the Conservatives pursue in government. Law and Order, Housing and Tx Cuts, are the three policy priorities that would keep Labour out he argued.
Britain needs to go-global to be a economic success as 95% of economic growth will be outside the EU. “Think what we could achieve with proper free trade deals,” he said to an entranced audience as he turned to the “sad and desperate” Chequers deal. Chequers is not “pragmatic” or a compromise but “dangerous”, “my fellow Conservatives”, he said applause rising, “it is not what we voted for.” The Chequers terms would be humiliating for Britain showing that we have been “unable to take back control.” Any idea we could change the terms down the line is a “total fantasy”, he blasted. It would embolden those who want a second referendum and who ultimately want to Remain in the EU.
Gathered activists howled, whooped and applauded as he declared “now is the time to Chuck Chequers”. He proposed using the “useless” implementation period to negotiate a new deal. This would be a “win-win” for the EU and Britain. If we “bottle Brexit” then it would protract the “toxic, tedious” business of Brexit politics and be bad for people who simply want politicians to return to a domestic agenda. He ended with a call to “Back Theresa May” in returning to her original, Lancaster House, plan and to thunderous applause from those present he promptly left the hall.