Boris Johnson avoided a flashpoint with Theresa May after weeks of turmoil at the top of the Conservative Party, pledging “steadfast” support for the Prime Minister and standing by “every syllable” of her Brexit strategy.
Theresa May will today call on her party to “shape up” and focus on working for ordinary voters rather than obsessing about her leadership. The Prime Minister will use her keynote speech to the Conservative conference in Manchester on Wednesday to call on the party to “do our duty by Britain”.
Mr Johnson’s disruptive conduct in the run up to the party’s conference appeared to be forgiven by party delegates, who gave him a standing ovation. Attempting to lift his party’s mood in the wake of a dismal general election result, the Foreign Secretary said: “You won - we won. Theresa May won.
“She won more votes than any party leader and took this party to its highest share of the vote in any election in the last 25 years - and the whole country owes her a debt for her steadfastness in taking Britain forward as she will to a great Brexit deal.”
Earlier, the Prime Minister accepted there were “different views” about Brexit among her ministers but said: “Weak leadership is about having a cabinet full of yes men.”
Asked whether Mr Johnson’s interventions were undermining her position, she told the BBC: “It doesn’t undermine what I am doing at all.
“There is a lot of talk about Boris’s job or this job or that job inside the Cabinet. Actually, what people are concerned about - they don’t want us to be thinking about our jobs, they want us to be thinking about their jobs and their futures.”
But the Foreign Secretary was engulfed in controversy again last night after suggesting the Libyan port of Sirte, where many migrants begin the dangerous sea crossing to Europe, could be as prosperous as Dubai as soon as residents “clear the dead bodies away”.
In her closing speech today, Mrs May will tell activists: “Let us do our duty by Britain. Let us shape up and give the country the Government it needs.
“For beyond this hall, beyond the gossip pages of the newspapers, and beyond the streets, corridors and meeting rooms of Westminster, life continues - the daily lives of ordinary working people go on.
“And they must be our focus today. Not worrying about our job security, but theirs. Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them.”