The Spectator

Boris Johnson: I will not be the next Tory leader

Boris Johnson: I will not be the next Tory leader
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Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the Tory leadership race. Here is his full speech:

Last week the people of this country voted to take a new path and a new direction for Britain in a decision that I passionately support. And it is vital now to see this moment for what it is.

This is not a time to quail, it is not a crisis, nor should we see it as an excuse for wobbling or self doubt. But as a moment for hope and ambition for Britain. A time not to fight against the tide of history but to take that tide at the flood and sail on to fortune. This is our chance. This is our chance to build a Britain not just with a dynamic free market economy but an economy where everyone benefits from that success. Because as someone who has campaigned across the country in the last few months and spoken to thousands of people, I can tell you there are too many who have not seen their wages rise in years and in many cases seen them fall and who cannot understand how it is that the pay packets of the FTSE 100 chief executives are now 150 times the average pay of the workforce in their companies when it was perhaps 50 times 20 years ago, 25 times in 1980.

Now, I’m no Communist. As my time in City Hall will testify, I’m a tax-cutting Conservative. But I want a tax system that is fairer for those forgotten people where we invest in the potential of every young person so that they have the skills and the confidence to take advantage of what this country had to offer. And this is our chance to learn the lessons of the referendum campaign and as One-Nation Conservatives, to speak up for those forgotten people, to give them the ladder up which they cam climb and to draw them back into the great Conservative coalition to which they once belonged. This is our chance to restore Britain’s standing as an independent, sovereign and self-governing nation making our own trade policy, striking deals with the growth economies around the world. And I can tell you that just in the last few days I’ve already heard of overtures from Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and Singapore. And the good news for our friends in America is that they will be in the front of the queue.

This is our chance to re-launch our commitment to Europe, to peace and stability on the continent by giving leadership on defence cooperation, on counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing and all the things that make our continent safer. This is our chance to assert our values, to tell the world again what kind of a country Britain is. Where we value everyone equally, no matter where you were born or when you came to this country or what religion you practice, you are part of our Great British family. And we celebrate the contribution made by people who have come to this country to make it better and richer, whether it is quants in the City of London or anaesthetists in the NHS. A country where every person, regardless of their sexuality can get married and find fulfilment. A freedom that must rank as one of the finest of David Cameron’s many fine achievements. This is our chance to unite our party around those values and at the same time to unite our country and our society.  It is vital now in the Conservative Party that we bring together everybody who campaigned so hard both for the Remain or the Leave sides. I’d like see the most talented and capable men and women in our party uniting to take the country forward.

When I think of the progress I want this country to make and hope this country will make, I cannot help but think of how London has been transformed over the last few decades from relative stagnation to the most dynamic urban economy in Europe and I’m immensely proud of what our team achieved at City Hall over the last eight years in which we did everything we could to break down the barriers that restrain the poorest in society and to fuel the engines of social mobility.

We brought down crime by almost 20%, the murder rate down by half, bus crime down by 50%, obviously, crime committed on buses rather than crime by buses, which has been more or less wholly eradicated. We cut deaths by fire by 50%, we brought down road traffic accidents to the lowest level ever. And when you think how crime and fire and RTAs disproportionately fall on the poorest sectors of our society I think you can see those reductions as a victory for social justice.

We championed transport, the great equaliser, and literally, the great mobiliser, moving millions to take advantage of the most extraordinary wealth-creating zone anywhere in Europe. And also liberating the development of hitherto inaccessible brown field sites so that we were able to build a record number of affordable homes -- more than 100,000 -- and were able to regenerate huge parts of East London. And I'm proud to say that when I left office last month there were 44,000 sites in this city under construction, more than any time in the history of London.

Go to the Olympic Park and you'll see the astonishing physical legacy from those games, unlike a legacy that has been produced by any other Olympic city. And at the same time, we did everything we could to invest in our human capital, helping London's superb schools and teaching with our excellence funds, helping to create more than 200,000 apprenticeships and putting tens of millions of pounds into the pockets of the poorest families in our city by expanding massively the London living wage.

And I'm proud to say, that at the end of eight years not only is everyone living longer, 18 months longer both for men and for women, as I tell you, you live longer under the Conservatives. The biggest gains in life expectancy have been made by those with the lowest incomes.

When I became Mayor of London, four out of the six poorest boroughs of the UK were in London. London now has none of the poorest 20 boroughs in the UK.

And I believe, for any government, it is time to invest in the infrastructure and to pursue the fiscal devolution agenda to ensure that London's success is replicated as it increasingly is across the towns and cities of the UK.

I will not pretend that everything has always been rosy; things are sometimes tough, even in the greatest city on Earth. I've lead the capital through riots and blizzards and strikes and terrorist attack, and every time we have bounced back and gone from strength to strength. I treasure a cover of Time magazine, from eight years ago, which pictured various famous London buildings being engulfed by the waves. 'London's Sinking' was the headline. Well I ask you to look at our capital today, still the number one financial centre, the greatest tech hub in this hemisphere, the number one tourist destination on Earth, with more visitors going to the British Museum, I'm told, than go to the whole of Belgium, not that I have anything against Brussels at all, as you know.

The prophets were wrong then and they're wrong now. London and the whole of the UK will flourish mightily outside of the EU since it is manifestly in the economic interest of our friends and partners to agree a deal that involves mutual and universal access to our markets with no tariffs and no quotas. Whilst we remove ourselves from the EU legal order and the supremacy of the European court and take back control of our immigration policy, with a points-based system that is fairer to all the talented and hard-working people who want to come here, whether they are the 7% of the world that are in the EU or the 93% of the world that is not.

This is our chance to think globally again, to lift our eyes to the horizon, to bring our unique British voice and values: powerful, humane, progressive to the great global forums without being elbowed aside by a super-national body. And instead of being afflicted by nerves, let us seize this as our moment to stand tall in the world. That is the agenda for the next Prime Minister of this country.

Well I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited for the punch line of this speech. That having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament I have concluded that person cannot be me.

My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration. To make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda I believe in. To stick up for the forgotten people of this country. And if we do so, if we invest in our children and improve their life chances. If we continue to fuel the engines of social mobility. If we build on the great reforming legacy of David Cameron. If we invest in our infrastructure and if we follow a sensible, moderate One-Nation Conservative approach that is simultaneously tax cutting and pro-enterprise, then I believe that this country can win and be better than and more wonderful and yes, greater than ever before.

I want to thank you all very much for coming along this morning. I want to thank particularly my colleagues in parliament who have come, all my team and of course everyone around the country who supports our vision of a better Britain.

Thank you all very much.