Boris Johnson officially kick-started his pitch to be Prime Minister and North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was one of the 200 people to watch his pitch.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a staunch Eurosceptic and leader of the anti-European Union band of Tories in the European Research Group, was one of the early backers of the former foreign secretary and he crammed into a room in central London to hear what Mr Johnson was proposing for his time in Downing Street.
Speaking to Bristol Live after Wednesday morning’s speech at the Royal Academy of Engineering off The Mall, Mr Rees-Mogg said Mr Johnson’s record as London mayor proved he could “get things done” and confirmed he trusted him to break the Brexit malaise.
He said: “I’m supporting Boris because he’ll deliver on Brexit which people voted for in 2016. He also has a vision for the country that will be a prosperous and successful United Kingdom as he set out in his launch speech.
(Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire)
“It is about ensuring that free market capitalism works and about helping people who need to be helped in society, ensuring people get better education, that crime is tackled and from his record as mayor of London he was very good at delivering on his manifesto promises.”
Asked whether he thought Mr Johnson’s eight years in charge of London might help the Tories in Bristol, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think what [Mr Johnson’s time as mayor of London] shows is that when he is in charge, he can get things done – that is the key part of this.
“And that will spread out to places like my constituency which are rural, as well as to urban areas.”
Mr Johnson is the favourite to become the next prime minister as the 10 candidates get ready for the first set of votes on Thursday, June 13. MPs will whittle the field down to two candidates by June 20 before Conservative Party members electe their next leader by late July.
(Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Here are the highlights of what Mr Johnson told supporters and journalists at his campaign speech:
- He will look to deliver Brexit by October 31 and that includes preparing for a no-deal exit – although leaving without no-deal is not what he wants. He said: “We won’t get a result if we give the impression we want to kick the can down the road.”
- Told supporters how he had defeated the left-wing of the Labour Party when elected mayor of London and so was best placed to beat Jeremy Corbyn and the rising popularity of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at the next general election.
- The country must move past Brexit and “level-up” the regions outside London and the south east.
- Supporting business, bankers and technology entrepreneurs helps pay for a good public service and afford teachers, nurses and doctors, he added.
- Admitted there would be “bumps in the road” toward Brexit but said the EU would find an enthusiastic new government to enter into negotiations with.
- Dodged questions on his past drug use and, in defence of his “letterbox” comments about the burqa, said he would “speak as directly as I can” if elected PM.
The other nine candidates are: Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Bristol-born Home Secretary Sajid Javid, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, ex-work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, one-time chief whip Mark Harper and Andrea Leadsom, who came second in the race three years ago to Theresa May.