BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Former foreign minister Boris Johnson will say on Tuesday the governing Conservative Party should not “ape” the policies of Britains opposition Labour and instead return to its true values of low tax and law and order.
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech on Brexit at the Policy Exchange in central London, Britain, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
In a speech that will do little to temper talk that Johnson, who quit government over Prime Minister Theresa Mays Brexit plan, is launching a bid to replace her, the Brexit supporter will urge the party to “believe in Conservative values”.
With just six months to go before Britain leaves the European Union, Mays strategy for Brexit has come under criticism from not only the bloc but also from within her party, with Johnson being one of the loudest voices of protest.
His speech on Tuesday to the party could overshadow Mays efforts to present a united front over Brexit and to try to energise her party to engage with the many millions in Britain who voted for Labours leftist policies in last years election, depriving the Conservatives of a parliamentary majority.
“We must on no account follow (Labour leader Jeremy) Corbyn, and start to treat capitalism as a kind of boo word,” he will say, according to excerpts of his speech.
“We cant lose our faith in competition and choice and markets but we should restate the truth that there is simply no other system that is so miraculously successful in satisfying human wants and needs.”
Conservatives have been left less confident over their election chances after they lost their parliamentary majority in the 2017 poll. They now rely on the backing of a small Northern Irish party to push through laws.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, which supports the government, said she wanted to see a more positive vision from the Conservative for post-Brexit Britain, in a possible boost for Johnson.
“What we want to see, and Im not making a comparison between Boris and the prime minister, is belief. We want to see that spirit,” she told the Telegraph newspaper, adding that she would work with any leader of the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives conference in the central English city of Birmingham has been a cautious affair compared to a similar meeting of Labour members a week earlier, when the leftist leadership voiced confidence the party could win an election, even an early vote.
May has ruled out a snap election – the next one is scheduled for 2022 – but her words have done little to quash a growing belief that if the Brexit talks fail, or parliament votes down any deal, an early vote could follow.
Johnson was set to push what he saw was the Conservatives winning formula in any election.
“We should set our taxes to stimulate investment and growth. We should be constantly aiming not to increase but to cut taxes,” he will say. “It is the conservative approach that gets things done, so lets follow our conservative instincts.”
reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James; editing by Andrew Roche
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