Boris Johnson says Tories must deliver Brexit or face extinction
Leadership hopeful says his party is ‘facing an existential crisis’
Boris Johnson says the Conservative Party faces “extinction” if Britain is not out of the EU by 31 October.
The leadership hopeful warned Tory MPs “delay means defeat” as he told a leadership hustings that the party is “facing an existential crisis”.
He told MPs from the centrist One Nation wing of the party: “We need to realise the depth of the problems we face – unless we get on and do this thing, we will be punished for a very long time.
“There is a very real choice between getting Brexit done and the potential extinction of this great party. But I believe I can take on Farage and win back the voters being won over by him.”
Johnson’s chances of replacing Theresa May received what The Times describes as a “significant boost” today when three moderates declared him a “proven winner”.
Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden said Johnson is a One Nation Conservative whose values can “inspire the country and revitalise our party”.
Writing in The Times, they added: “He will take the fight to our opponents — Farage and Corbyn — and we will win.” Johnson now has 40 public endorsements - 14 more than his nearest rivals, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt.
Meanwhile, the 1922 Committee has agreed to change the rules for the Tory leadership race after candidates came forward to replace Theresa May.
The committee of Conservative backbenchers has agreed each candidate will need the support of 16 MPs in the first ballot and then 32 in the second ballot to remain in the contest.
This means candidates will need to win 5% of votes in the first ballot and 10% in the second in order to progress. The Evening Standard says that the rule change is designed “to quickly eliminate candidates with little support”.
The Guardian adds that the rule change means the Conservatives are “speeding up their leadership contest to set up a battle between two big name candidates within the next fortnight”.
The planned timetable was set out by Michael Fabricant MP in a tweet. He wrote: “It is hoped the final two will be chosen by the end of next week and a new PM will be in place by the end of July at the latest.”
Meanwhile, James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse have announced that they have pulled out of the race to replace Theresa May, who is due to resign as leader of the Tory party on Friday.