Boris Johnson: Conservatives face ‘extinction’ if Brexit remains undelivered
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has warned that the Conservative party will never be forgiven and faces potential extinction if it fails on its promise to deliver Brexit.
His comments came at the first hustings of the Conservative leadership contest before the One Nation Conservative Caucus of MPs.
Johnson is widely regarded as a frontrunner among the 11 candidates in the running to assume the premiership in lieu of the departing Theresa May.
He said: “We will not be forgiven if we do not deliver Brexit on October 31.
"We need to realise the depth of the problems we face. Unless we get on and do this thing, we will be punished for a very long time. There is a very real choice between getting Brexit done and the potential extinction of this great party.”
Johnson remains adamant that the UK must depart the EU by the end of October in any scenario, despite a no-deal Brexit inevitably set to cause “some disruption”.
Yet Johnson believes he is in the best position to see off the challenge of Labour and the newly emerging Brexit Party and will not resort to a snap general election if he is successful in his bid to become Prime Minister.
Johnson said: ”I believe I am best placed to lift this party, beat Jeremy Corbyn and excite people about conservatism and conservative values.”
He also warned that calls for another referendum are likely to grow in the event of a further delay to Brexit.
Johnson's suggestion to decisively breach the Brexit impasse in parliament is to replace the Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements”, paving the way for a “managed exit” from the EU.
However, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly insisted that the backstop must remain part of any agreement and refused to bind it into a firm time limit or exit date.
The influential European Research Group has implored all Conservative leadership candidates to ensure that the UK leaves the bloc on schedule by taking Theresa May's negotiated withdrawal agreement off the table.
They have also recommended that the victor step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms.
The acting joint-chair of the 1922 Committee, Charles Walker, told BBC Radio 4 that he expects the process to nominate the final two candidates to take no more than a fortnight.
The wider membership of the Conservative Party will then select the next Prime Minister.