London: Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to be Britain’s next prime minister, laid out his pitch to win the leadership race in the ruling Conservative Party on Wednesday.
Following are comments by Johnson at the launch of his campaign.
On delaying Brexit
“We will simply not get a result if we give the impression that we want to go on kicking the can down the road and yet more delay ... Delay means defeat, delay means ruin, kick the can again and we kick the bucket.”
“With every week and month that goes by in which we fail to deliver on our promise, I’m afraid we will further alienate not just our natural supporters, driving them into the arms of insurgent parties, but anyone who believes that politicians should deliver on their promises.”
On no-deal Brexit
“Let me be clear: I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome. I don’t think that we will end up with any such thing, but it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously for no-deal. Indeed it is astonishing that anyone could suggest dispensing with that vital tool in the negotiation.” “The best way to avoid a disorderly Brexit is to make the preparations now that will enable us to leave in a managed way if we have to. But above all if we make the preparations now we will carry the conviction with our friends and partners that we are able to make such an exit if we really have to, if we are dared, if we are moved, if we have to go down that route, which would, of course, be a last resort, not something that anybody desires, as our last option.”
On report that he took cocaine
“I think the canonical account of this event when I was 19 has appeared many, many times. I think what most people want us to focus on in this campaign, if I may say so, is what we can do for them and what our plans are for this great country of ours.
The prospectus that I am setting out this morning of solid, modern Conservatism, of a one-nation vision, championing the wealth-creating sector of our country.
“All the rest of it frankly is, I think, in danger of blowing us off track. Let’s focus on what Conservatism is.”
On whether he ever broke the law
“Have I ever done anything illegal? ... I cannot swear that I’ve always observed a top speed in this country of 70 miles [110 kilometres] an hour.”
On mood in Britain
“It is almost as if the commercial dynamism of the British people is insulating them from the crisis in our politics and yet we cannot ignore the morass of Westminster.”
“Around the country there is a feeling of disillusion and even despair at our ability to get things done. The longer it goes on, the worse the risk that there will be serious contamination and a real loss of confidence.”
On the union of the United Kingdom
“In everything that we do we will seek to strengthen the union of our four nations. That invincible quartet. The awesome foursome that makes up the UK. The world’s soft power, superpower. I have seen across the world in our armed forces, in our shared diplomacy, in our shared cultural impact, how we are so much more than the sum of our parts.”
On previous comments about business concerns about Brexit
“I don’t think there is anybody in the modern Conservative Party who can honestly say to have done more to stick up for business, even in the toughest of times.”
On his style of communication
“Occasionally some plaster comes off the ceiling as a result of a phrase I may have used, or indeed as result of how that phrase has been wrenched out of context and interpreted by those who wish for reasons of their own to caricature my views.
“But I think it is vital that we as politicians remember that one of the reasons why the public feels alienated now from us all as a breed — politicians — is because too often they feel we are muffling and veiling our language, not speaking as we find, covering everything up in bureaucratic platitudes, when what they want to hear is what we genuinely think.
“And if sometimes in the course of trying to get across what I genuinely think, I use phrases and language that have caused offence, of course I am sorry for the offence I have caused, but I will continue to speak as directly as I can because that is what I think the British public wants to hear.”