The former Foreign Secretary called for “guts and courage” in an impassioned speech yesterday. Mr Johnson said “clarity” was needed to deliver Brexit with or without a deal and warned MPs would face “mortal retribution” if they interfere with the EU referendum, The Daily Telegraph reported. Following the speech, his campaign received a huge boost as Remain MPs were blocked from trying to stop a no deal Brexit.
Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, became the 81st MP to back Mr Johnson’s leadership bid and sixth Cabinet minister, the paper reported.
Mr Cox said Mr Johnson was the only candidate who could “out-fight Nigel Farage in every corner of the country”.
He added: “These are extraordinary times, and we need a personality big enough, strong enough and with the political imagination to rise to the historic challenge with which our country is now confronted.”
Mr Johnson has 50 MPs support more than his rivals, Michael Gove who has 32 and Jeremy Hunt, 30.
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Taking the stage earlier today, Mr Johnson said the Conservative Party’s progress was frozen while Brexit was stuck in a “yellow box junction” at Westminster.
He said: “The people of this country deserve better from their leaders.”
Mr Johnson added: “Let me be clear that I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome.
“It is only if we have the guts and the courage to get ready for it that we will carry any conviction in Brussels and get the deal we need.”
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Most of his speech was not aimed at Brexit, however, but at reuniting the fractures in society.
He said he wanted to “re-knit the bonds” of society, emphasising One Nation social Conservatism.
He said: “We must fight now for those who feel left behind.
“We need now to level up, not to neglect our capital — of course not — but to put in the infrastructure that will lift every region.
“Northern powerhouse rail, and proper connectivity in the West Midlands.”