In Brief

Boris Johnson launches campaign with Brexit warning

Leadership hopeful says ‘we cannot keep kicking can down the road’

Boris Johnson launched his leadership campaign today with a warning that there can be no further delay on Brexit.

“After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31,” the frontrunner told his supporters.

“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. With every week and month that goes by in which we fail to deliver on our promise I am afraid we will further alienate not just our natural supporters but anyone who believes that politicians should deliver on their promises.”

The BBC points out that Johnson “has kept a low profile in the race to succeed Theresa May so far”, but today took questions for the first time in the contest.

The Times predicted that Johnson’s campaign launch was “likely to be overshadowed” by the cross-party bid to stop any Brexiteer prime minister taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal.

The plan would see the Commons vote on a motion allowing MPs to take control of the parliamentary timetable later this month. Legislation would be introduced to prevent a prime minister from suspending the Commons to push through a no-deal Brexit, and ruling out a no deal without parliamentary approval.

Steve Baker MP, who has endorsed Boris for the leadership, accused leading Tory rebel Sir Oliver Letwin of “unconscionable” behaviour for backing the bid.

Several rival contenders for the Tory leadership have already made thinly veiled digs at Johnson during the campaign but Rory Stewart became the first to launch a direct personal attack on him yesterday.

Speaking to an audience of 600 members of the public, Stewart said: “Do you really feel that this is the person that you want engaging in the detail of the future of your health and education system? Is this the person you want writing the instruction to the nuclear submarines? Is this the man that you want embodying your nation and guiding you through the most difficult choice we’ve faced for 50 years?”

Meanwhile, Sajid Javid, also launched his campaign today, calling for change at the top of the Conservatives.

“I believe now more than ever that this is a moment for a new kind of leadership and a new kind of leader,” the home secretary said. “A leader is not just for Christmas, or just for Brexit. So we can’t risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort zone choice. We need tomorrow’s leader, today.”

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