Boris Johnson to woo Tory members in speech ahead of expected leadership bid

Former foreign secretary will call for the party to focus on homes, law and order and cutting taxes

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Tuesday 02 October 2018 01:37 BST
Boris Johnson refuses to rule out a Conservative leadership bid

Boris Johnson will make on overt pitch for the backing of Tory members on Tuesday, demanding the party get back to “conservative instincts” instead of trying to ape Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

The former foreign secretary will say the party should focus on tax cuts, homes and law and order as he courts members who would vote in any future leadership contest.

In a sign that he is trying to appeal to a broad range of the party following comments that offended many people about Muslim women wearing burqas and niqabs, he will seek to position himself as a “one nation” Tory.

His speech on the fringe of the Conservative conference in Birmingham will be seen as the latest step towards an expected challenge to Theresa May in the coming months.

It comes after a string of senior Tory figures including Philip Hammond, Sajid Javid and Ruth Davidson slated the former London mayor after his constant attacks on the prime minister and her Brexit plans.

Mr Johnson is expected to say: “We must on no account follow Corbyn, and start to treat capitalism as a kind of boo word.

“We can’t lose our faith in competition and choice and markets, but we should restate the truth that there is simply no other system that is so miraculously successful in satisfying human wants and needs.

“We should set our taxes to stimulate investment and growth. We should be constantly aiming not to increase but to cut taxes.”

Treasury’s initial forecast about a no-deal Brexit would 'not have changed radically,' says Philip Hammond

He will argue that it is the conservative approach that gets things done and so that the party must return to its conservative instincts.

In an attack on Mr Corbyn’s speech in Liverpool last week, he will say: “It was astonishing that he had absolutely nothing to say about the wealth creating sector of the economy.

“The people who get up at the crack of dawn to prepare their shops, the grafters and the grifters, the innovators, the entrepreneurs – he didn’t mention any successes.

“We conservatives know that it is only a strong private sector economy that can pay for superb public services and that is the central symmetry of our one nation Toryism.”

After the former frontbencher undertook a series of interviews over the weekend criticising Ms May’s Brexit proposals, senior figures in the party attacked him.

The latest attack came from Mr Hammond, which saw him question Mr Johnson’s ability to understand detail and even do a mocking impression of him during a newspaper interview.

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