Johnson launches campaign to be British PM

Mr Boris Johnson is the bookmakers' favourite to take over the running of Britain from Prime Minister Theresa May.
Mr Boris Johnson is the bookmakers' favourite to take over the running of Britain from Prime Minister Theresa May.

LONDON • Mr Boris Johnson, the front runner to be Britain's next prime minister, promised yesterday to lead the country out of the European Union on Oct 31, with or without an exit deal, launching his leadership bid in a campaign video.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to resign on Friday, having failed to deliver Brexit on schedule. She leaves behind her a divided nation and a Parliament with no consensus on the way ahead for the world's fifth largest economy.

Mr Johnson, a former foreign minister who resigned in protest at Mrs May's handling of Brexit, is the bookmakers' favourite to take over the running of the country at its most important strategic juncture in decades.

"If I get in, we'll come out, deal or no deal, on Oct 31," he was seen telling a member of the public in a campaign video on Twitter.

The launch coincided with the arrival in Britain of United States President Donald Trump, who has thrown his weight behind Mr Johnson by saying he would do a "very good job" as British leader.

Mr Johnson is himself a divisive figure.

Having led the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, he is feted by those who see him as a colourful straight-talker, prepared to speak the truth to a political establishment that has betrayed swathes of the electorate.

 
 
 

But critics say the former London mayor, educated at the exclusive Eton College and Oxford University, is an opportunist member of the political elite seeking to get the top job at any cost.

He is due to appear in court over claims that he lied during the Brexit referendum campaign - something his lawyers have dismissed as a political stunt.

Yesterday's video, featuring clips of Mr Johnson talking to voters and a monologue delivered straight to camera, is his first real salvo in the leadership battle which so far, has 13 contenders and could take two months to determine the winner.

In it, he is seen touching on issues known to be important to the 160,000 or so Conservative Party members who will have the final vote on Britain's next leader, once the candidate list has been whittled down by party lawmakers.

"Cut some taxes and you get more money in," said Mr Johnson, while also arguing for more investment in education, infrastructure and healthcare.

"Now is the time to unite our society and our country. To build the infrastructure, to invest in education, to improve our environment and to support our fantastic NHS (National Health Service)," he said.

"To lift everyone in our country, and of course, also to make sure that we support our wealth creators and the businesses that make that investment possible."

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2019, with the headline 'Johnson launches campaign to be British PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe