Boris Johnson brandished a smoked kipper during the final Tory leadership hustings of the campaign as he embarked on a bizarre rant about ”pointless, expensive, environmentally damaging” EU regulations.
The frontrunner to take over from Theresa May as prime minister next week used the fish to illustrate a point about what he called European bureaucracy.
During his opening statement at the hustings in London, the former foreign secretary leaned behind the lectern and stood up brandishing the smoked fish in a clear plastic bag.
He told the audience of Tory members: “I want you to consider this kipper, which has been presented to me just now by the editor of a national newspaper, who received it from a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man who is utterly furious because, after decades of sending kippers like this through the post, he has had his costs massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats who have insisted that each kipper must be accompanied by a plastic ice pillow.”
Waving an “ice pillow”, he added: “Pointless, expensive, environmentally-damaging health and safety, ladies and gentlemen.
“When we come out, we will not only be able to take back control of our regulatory framework and end this damaging regulatory overkill, but we will also be able to do things to boost Britain’s economy, which leads the worlds in so many sectors.”
Mr Johnson also said that Theresa May‘s Brexit deal was “effectively defunct”, hinting that he would seek to renegotiate the agreement in its entirety, rather than just the controversial Northern Ireland backstop element.
He said: “I think the whole Withdrawal Agreement is effectively defunct but the backstop is certainly the bit I find most difficult.”
He said the backstop could mean the UK being trapped in the EU customs union indefinitely or else “lose control” of Northern Ireland.
He said: “We would see a division between the union and Great Britain and Northern Ireland and I think that’s an utterly intolerable choice. So as far as I’m concerned the backstop won’t work.”
The result of the leadership ballot will be announced on Tuesday, with the new prime minister set to take office on Wednesday.
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