Tories must listen to the ‘millions who voted for change’ says Boris Johnson as party digests ‘rout’ in Euro elections
- The former Mayor of London is vying to succeed the outgoing Theresa May
- He warned the Conservatives face a ‘permanent haemorrhage’ of support
- He said a failure to deliver Brexit would be catastrophic and endorsed no-deal
The former Mayor of London – who is vying to succeed the outgoing Theresa May -said the Tories’ ‘rout’ in the polls last night would lapse into a ‘permanent haemorrhage’ of voter support unless the party made concessions to win back disenchanted Brexiteers.
After Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party lapped up votes in traditional Tory strongholds, the wannabe prime minister said that the party he hopes to lead must listen to the ‘million who voted for change’.
Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson has blamed the Conservatives’ drubbing in the European elections on a failure to deliver Brexit
The Conservatives suffered a humiliating 14.9 per cent loss in their 2014 vote share in last night’s European election results
The former foreign secretary accused the the embattled Mrs May and her government of having ‘flagrantly failed’ in managing Britain’s departure from the EU, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
And burnishing his hardline credentials as he sets out his pitch to Tory members ahead of the summer leadership contest, he insisted that a no-deal Brexit must not be ruled out.
He said: ‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.’
Mr Johnson insisted last week that the UK would quit the bloc on October 31 ‘deal or no deal’.
Jeremy Hunt warned the Tories faced an ‘existential’ threat if they failed to deliver Brexit
His concerns over the future of the party were echoed by rival leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt who warned there was an ‘existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done.’
Daniel Hannan, who was elected as one of just three Tory MEPs in England and Wales, said the European elections had been ‘without question our worst result as a party ever’.
‘People voted to leave three years ago and we haven’t left, it’s as simple as that,’ he told the Press Association.
‘I think I’m back as one of, I think it looks like being three Conservatives nationally.
‘So without question our worst result as a party ever.’
But he suggested the party’s fortunes could be turned around and the threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party neutralised if the UK did leave the EU.
‘The appeal of a party called the Brexit Party will dry up very quickly once Brexit has happened,’ he said.
‘We need to leave in a way that carries as many people with us as possible and we need to be conciliatory and we need to have a Brexit that is cordial and orderly and that people in the 48% and the 52% can live with, but it’s got to happen speedily.
‘I was not expecting to go back to the European Parliament and I really don’t want to stay there any longer than is necessary.’
Mr Gove (left) said he would set out his stance on no deal in the coming days, but that he agreed with Mrs May on the need for compromise in politics
As the battle for Downing Street heated up, Environment Secretary Michael Gove insisted he has ‘evolved’ as a politician since previously stating he was ‘incapable’ of being prime minister.
He told BBC Radio 4 podcast, Political Thinking with Nick Robinson: ‘I’ve changed my mind.
‘In those three years I have been through a variety of experiences. I think that I’ve evolved as a politician.’
Mr Johnson and Mr Gove fronted the Vote Leave campaign to victory in the 2016 referendum.
But they famously fell out in the aftermath when Gove quit as Johnson’s campaign chairman and sank his leadership bid.
These former battle lines are now being redrawn as the rival Eurosceptics both set their sights on Number 10.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has repeatedly refused to rule out backing a no confidence vote in Theresa May’s successor if they went for a no-deal Brexit in October.
He told the BBC: ‘A prime minister who ignores Parliament cannot expect to survive very long.’
With most of the results now in, Brexit Party is in first place while Labour and the Conservatives struggled at the polls
The Brexit Party have topped polls in every country or region apart from London. London was won by the Liberal Democrats
Other leadership contenders Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey have said they would be prepared to leave with no deal on October 31 if necessary.
Mr Gove said he would set out his stance on no-deal in the coming days, but that he agreed with Mrs May on the need for compromise in politics.
Writing in the Times, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for fellow contenders to rule out a snap national poll in a bid to try and end parliamentary deadlock on Brexit.
He said: ‘A general election before Brexit would be madness.
‘That means we have to deliver Brexit through this Parliament, whether we like it or not.’
Mr Gove insisted he could be trusted when asked about campaigning against his previous political ally David Cameron in the referendum, and the way he suddenly abandoned Mr Johnson in the 2016 leadership contest.
And Mr Johnson used the poor Tory showing in the European Parliament election to try and position himself as the candidate best placed to battle the Brexit Party.
The new Tory leader looks set to take over as prime minister at the end of July after Mrs May finally laid out a timetable for her exit from Downing Street.
Nominations close in the week of June 10, with MPs involved in a series of votes to whittle down the crowded field to a final two contenders.
The 160,000 Tory party members will then decide who wins the run-off.