Boris Johnson has put the threat of a Labour-SNP pact at the heart of his election message as he again pledged to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “come what may” in his speech to the Conservative Party conference.
The Prime Minister insisted there would be no customs checks “at or near” the Irish border under plans for a new Brexit deal to be formally submitted to the EU later today, after Dublin reacted with anger to a leak of the proposals.
“Let’s get Brexit done and bring this country together,” Mr Johnson told cheering supporters at the end of his speech, who chanted his name before the Prime Minister walked into the Manchester conference hall.
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Warning of the potential for a Labour government supported by the nationalists, Mr Johnson said: “It now appears that the SNP may yet try to bundle him towards the throne like some Konstantin Chernenko figure” - a reference to the ailing, short-lived 1980s Soviety leader.
Mr Johnson described the Union as the “most successful political partnership in history”.
“We will defend against those who would wantonly destroy it,” he said as he paid tribute to Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader who resigned amid tense relations with the Prime Minister.
“I say to Ruth Davidson as well, thank you for everything you did for the cause of Conservatism and unionism in Scotland.
“Ruth, we will honour your legacy too.”
In a speech that contained no policy announcements, Mr Johnson’s message was dominated by the pledge to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October.
The Prime Minister said there were “many reasons to be confident about our country and its direction” but added that the UK was “like a world class athlete with a pebble in our shoe”.
Attacking parliament for refusing to give him the general election that will unblock the Brexit process, he went on: “There is one part of the British system that seems to be on the blink.
“If parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom; if parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down; if parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now - but at least we could have watched the speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle.
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“The sad truth is that voters have more say over I’m a celebrity than they do over this House of Common which refuses to deliver Brexit, refuses to do anything constructive and refuses to have an election.
“Just at the moment when voters are desperate for us to focus on their priorities, we are continuing to chew the supermasticated subject of Brexit, when what people want, what leavers want, what remainers want, what the whole world wants – is to be calmly and sensibly done with the subject, and to move on, and that is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may.”