Boris Johnson today vowed to make sure Britain leaves the EU by October 31 because failing would put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.
The former Foreign Secretary delivered the warning as a new poll found he is best placed to win back voters from the Brexit Party and defeat Labour at the next election.
As Theresa May quit as Tory leader today, leadership favourite Johnson said that Brexit Party votes risked ‘delivering Corbyn to No 10’.
He also reiterated his vow to take the UK out of the EU by Halloween at all costs after Nigel Farage’s party beat the Tories at the Peterborough by-election but lost to Labour by 683 after the Brexiteer vote was split.
Mr Johnson made his pitch to One Nation Tories at a hustings event this week, giving a stark warning that the Conservative Party faces ‘extinction’ if it does not deliver Brexit by the end of October.
He has admitted No Deal would be ‘disruptive’ but insisted he was the only candidate who could put Nigel Farage ‘back in his box’ and his party would never be forgiven if it failed to get Britain out of the EU by the latest deadline.
The leadership favourite, whose nearest rivals appear to be Dominic Raab and Michael Gove, has attracted more declared supporters than any of the other candidates.
Conservative MP Boris Johnson leaves a house in London as polling said he is the leadership candidate best placed to take on Nigel Farage
60 per cent of people who back the Brexit Party or Ukip said they were more likely to vote Conservative if Mr Johnson was Prime Minister – much more than the other candidates
Mr Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit by October 31 to take back Brexit Party votes
In a new national poll today the Brexit Party is in the lead ahead of Labour and the Lib Dems with the Tories in fourth
Boris Johnson WON’T face court over £350m Brexit bus claim
Boris Johnson today won a High Court challenge against a court summons over claims he made during the referendum campaign that the EU receives £350million a week from the UK.
The former Foreign Secretary’s legal team challenged the summons for him to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court as they blocked a controversial private prosecution by campaigner Marcus Ball.
Mr Ball, a Remainer, had been trying to prosecute the Conservative leadership for three allegations of misconduct in a public office. But he will now not face court after two High Court judges took barely five minutes to quash the case.
His lawyers said District Judge Margot Coleman ‘erred in law’ by issuing the summons and argued the attempt to prosecute him was the culmination of a ‘politically-driven process’.
Speaking outside the court today, Mr Ball said: ‘We have just given the green light for every politician to lie to us about our money forever. That is a terrifying idea.’
Asked about funds raised to bring the private prosecution, he added: ‘I’ve already spent more money than I’ve raised. I’ve put myself in massive debt to do this.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: ‘Very glad to see the court case against Boris Johnson thrown out. Freedom of speech feels increasingly challenged – we should always seek to debate political arguments in the open rather than close them down.’
And Brexiteer Conservative MP Bob Seely, responding to a tweet about the case being quashed, said: ‘Good! That it made this far was ridiculous!’
Mr Johnson is the most likely candidate to win back Tory supporters who deserted the party under Mrs May’s leadership, today’s survey found.
Both Leave and Remain voters said he would the best-placed candidate to defeat Mr Corbyn over his rivals – who have half his support.
60 per cent of people who back the Brexit Party or Ukip said they were more likely to vote Conservative if Mr Johnson was Prime Minister, it revealed.
Just 31 per cent of voters said they were likely to back the Conservatives under Michael Gove, 23 per cent under Sajid Javid, 20 per cent under Dominic Raab and 15 per cent for Jeremy Hunt.
Today Mr Farage hit back at the news and said that Mr Johnson could not be trusted as he had voted for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. He jibed: ‘What does he actually believe in?’
Nearly half of Conservatives who voted Tory in 2017 but no longer support the party said Mr Johnson would make them more likely to vote for the party if he became prime minister.
Nearly a quarter of all voters in the marginal constituencies said Mr Johnson was the best-placed candidate to defeat Mr Corbyn, more than twice as many as his nearest rival.
The private polling of the 48 most marginal Tory seats was conducted by CTF Partners, a political strategy group, and reported by the Telegraph.
Sir Lynton Crosby, CTF’s founder, is a Conservative strategist who has previously worked on campaigns with David Cameron, Mrs May and Mr Johnson when he was mayor of London. The company has also donated to Mr Johnson’s campaign.
Theresa May will formally stand down as Tory leader on Friday – although she will carry on as Prime Minister and acting party leader until a successor is in place.
Mrs May will confirm her decision in an exchange of letters with the joint acting chairmen of the backbench 1922 Committee, Charles Walker and Dame Cheryl Gillan.
A call for candidates will then be issued at 5pm, with nominations opening at 10am on Monday and closing at 5pm the same day.
Prime Minister Theresa May smiles as she leaves her constituency home on the day she stands down as Conservative Party leader
Under the timetable set out by the party high command, it is expected the new leader will be in place in the week beginning July 22 following a postal ballot of the party’s 120,000 grassroots members.
Mrs May prepares to step down amid a growing row with Chancellor Philip Hammond over her plans to leave with a series of big spending announcements – including a multi-billion pound overhaul of England’s schools and colleges – according to the Financial Times.
The reported row comes after Downing Street defended the need for ambitious action to tackle climate change following warnings from the Treasury that cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 will cost £1 trillion.
Even as the formalities around Mrs May’s departure were taking place, the 11 contenders so far to declare in the race to succeed her were engaged in increasingly bitter exchanges.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab was at the centre of a political storm after he suggested he could be prepared to suspend Parliament to prevent it blocking a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid became the latest contender to denounce the idea – branding it ‘anti-democratic and anti-British’.
Mrs May speaks with veterans at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial above Gold Beach yesterday, her last day as Tory leader before she reigns today
Mrs May sobbed in Downing Street as she quit on May 24 and will leave No 10 in July
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, pictured at a barbecue at his home with wife Erika and supportive MPs, was at the centre of a political storm after he suggested he could be prepared to suspend Parliament to prevent it blocking a No Deal Brexit on October 31