Premium

Boris Johnson confirms he will 'of course' run to succeed Theresa May

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has confirmed he will run to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, claiming he has a "boundless appetite to try to get it right". 

Speaking at a private event in Manchester alongside the BBC presenter Huw Edwards, Mr Johnson told those in attendance "of course I'm going for it".

“I don't think that is any particular secret to anybody,” he added. “But you know there is no vacancy at present."

It marks the first time that the former foreign secretary has publicly stated his intention to run.

Mr Johnson is the Grassroots favourite to succeed Mrs May, topping every leadership poll published in recent months.

He is expected to run as the candidate offering a "clean Brexit", but faces stiff competition from Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary.

Others who have confirmed their intention to stand include Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary, and Esther McVey, the former work and pensions secretary.

Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, has said she is actively “considering” a bid, whilst Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss are all thought to be in the running. 

Asked about his leadership ambitions, Mr Johnson told the British Insurance Brokers’ Association conference: "All I can say, as tactfully and usefully as I can, is that I have a boundless appetite to try to get it right, and to help the country to get on the right path." 

In a thinly-veiled swipe at Mrs May, Mr Johnson went on to criticise the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

"What I will say is that there has been a real lack of grip and dynamism in the way we’ve approached these talks.

"We’ve failed over the past three years to put forward a convincing narrative about how we exploit the opportunities of Brexit."

Discussing the Conservatives' waning popularity in stark contrast to the rise of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, Mr Johnson said he had predicted a reckoning in British politics 18 months ago.

“I said if we continued in this supine way, there would rise again, like a great puffball, a right-wing party.

"The only way to address it is for us to get Brexit done, but also to get it done in such a way that we actually deliver on the mandate of the British people. If we can’t do that, there really will continue to be that threat from the Brexit Party and others.”  

His intervention came just moments before Mrs May confirmed she will announce a date for her departure next month, meaning a summer leadership contest now appears inevitable.

The Prime Minister has agreed to meet with the executive of the 1922 committee, the powerful backbench organisation of Tory MPs, at the beginning of June, when they will "agree a timetable for the election of a new leader".