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READ IN FULL: Boris Johnson's first speech as Tory leader

READ IN FULL: Boris Johnson's first speech as Tory leader

PoliticsHome staff

5 min read

Boris Johnson vowed to deliver Brexit, unite the country and deafeat Jeremy Corbyn in his first speech as Conservative leader.

I want to begin by thanking my opponent, Jeremy.  An absolutely formidable campaigner, and a great leader and a great politician. Jeremy, in the course of 20 hustings or husting style events, it was more than 3000 miles by the way, it was more like 7000 miles we did criss-crossing the country, you've been friendly, you've been good natured, you have been a fount of excellent ideas, all of which I propose to steal forthwith.

 Above all I want to thank our outgoing leader, Theresa May, for her extraordinary service to this party and this country. It was a privilege to serve in her cabinet and to see the passion and determination that she brought to the many causes that are her legacy, from equal pay for men and women to tackling the problems of mental health and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Thank you, Theresa. Thank you.

And I want to thank all of you, all of you here today, and obviously everybody in the Conservative Party. For your hard work, for your campaigning, for your public spirit and obviously for the extraordinary honour and privilege which you have just conferred on me.

And I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision, and they may even be some people here who still wonder quite what they have done. And I would just point out to you that nobody, no one person, no one party has a monopoly of wisdom, but if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party's existence, you will see it is we Conservatives that have had the best insights, I think, into human nature, and the best insights in how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.

And time and again, it is to us that the people of this country have turned to get that balance right, between the instincts to own your own house, to earn and spend your own money, to look after your own family. Good instincts, proper instincts, noble instincts. And the equally noble instinct to share and to give everyone a fair chance in life.  To look after the poorest and the neediest, and to build a great society.

And on the whole, in the last 200 years, it is we Conservatives who have understood best how to encourage those instincts to work together in harmony, to promote the good of the whole country.


And today, at this pivotal moment in our history, we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble sets of instincts, between the deep desire for friendship and free trade and mutual support in security and defence between Britain and our European partners, and the simultaneous desire, equally deep and heartfelt, for democratic self-government in this country.

 And of course, there are some people who say they are irreconcilable and that is just can't be done. And indeed, I read in my Financial Times this morning, devoted reader that I am, seriously, it is a great British brand. I read in my Financial Times this morning that no incoming leader has ever faced such a daunting set of circumstances, it said.

Well, I look at you this morning and I asked myself, do you look daunted? Do you feel daunted? I don't think you look remotely daunted to me. And I think we know we can do it, and that the people of this country are trusting in us to do it, and we know that we will do it.

And we know the mantra of the campaign that has just gone by, unless you have forgotten it. You probably have... it is deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn. And that is what we are going to do.

I know some WAG has already pointed out that deliver, unite and defeat was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign since unfortunately it spells DUD, but they forgot the final E my friends, E for energise.

I say to all the doubters, dude, we are going to energise the country. We are going to get Brexit done on October 31st, we are going to take advantage of all the opportunities it is going to bring in in a new spirit of can-do, and we are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve.

And like some slumbering giant, we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity. With better education, better infrastructure, more police, fantastic full-fibre broadband sprouting in every household, we are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward.

I thank you all very much for the incredible honour you have just done me. I will work flat-out from now on with my team, which I will build I hope in the next few days, to repay your confidence. But in the meantime, the campaign is over, and the work begins.

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