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THE final stage of the Conservative leadership contest is now underway as Tory members across the country cast their votes for the next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have just one day of meaningful campaigning to go as ballot papers land on the doorsteps of 160 000 Conservative Party members. Although there are still two weeks of campaigning to go, many Tory members across the country are expected to be making their decision from today after receiving their postal ballot papers.
Hunt has said it is “all to play for” in the race against Tory leadership frontrunner Johnson after initially believing it would be a “very long shot” at the start.
But the Foreign Secretary says that has changed because he believes “so many people” have switched to support him after hearing him speak.
Meanwhile, his rival Johnson has vowed to make Britain “the greatest place on Earth” if he succeeds in gaining the keys to 10 Downing Street.
The former foreign secretary said he was “fighting for every vote”, telling the Daily Telegraph: “I’m taking nothing for granted.
“It’s time to drive for the line, keeping the ball at the back of the scrum. I’m fighting for every vote and campaigning flat out and will be from now until the end.”
Speaking at Tory leadership hustings in Darlington, the Foreign Secretary dismissed comments by the Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe likening Brexit to the emancipation of the slaves.
“Ann Widdecombe is not in the British government, she is not even in the Conservative Party,” he said.
He added: “I think there has been some terrible rhetoric on the EU side about the United Kingdom which has been the biggest friend to the European Union the whole time we have been in it, which has defended Europe with our armed forces.
“So I think we have to dial down the rhetoric on all sides and come to a sensible way forward that allows us to leave the European Union cleanly and also be the best of friends afterwards.”
Asked when he had set aside his own self interest, Mr Johnson said: “It is obviously possible to make more money by not being a full-time politician. You have to make sacrifices sometimes and that is the right thing to do.
“Being a full-time politician means that I won’t be able, for instance, to rapidly complete a book on Shakespeare that I have in preparation.”
Asked if the age of austerity is over, Mr Johnson said: “I never liked it.
“I remember Dave Cameron saying to me he wanted to have an austerity Olympics and I said ‘no way Dave, no way’.
“That was not the stuff to give the troops. What we wanted was a great Olympics.”
Speaking in Darlington, he said there were “too many” areas in Britain where English was not people’s first language.
He added: “That needs to change.”
Boris said he wants everyone who moves to Britain “to be and to feel British and to learn English. That’s the most important thing.”
Boris Johnson has dismissed warnings by senior ministers that Parliament will find a way to block a no-deal Brexit as a “red herring”.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and ex-minister Sam Gyimah have said MPs will not allow Britain to leave the EU without an agreement with Brussels.
Speaking during a Tory leadership hustings in Darlington, Johnson said: “I think this is all a bit of a red herring. We are facing an existential crisis as a party and indeed as a political class.
“It was a clear, clear majority for Leave. Now we are at a state where MPs seem still to be refusing to enact the mandate of the people. That is why our great party is languishing in the polls. — AFP
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