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Boris Johnson launches UK PM bid: 'Block Brexit and we face mortal retribution from voters'

Boris Johnson launches UK PM bid: 'Block Brexit and we face mortal retribution from voters'
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
By Emma Beswick
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'I am not aiming for a no-deal Brexit outcome,' says Boris Johnson at leadership bid launch


Britain's former foreign minister, Boris Johnson, on Wednesday launched his campaign to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May as Conservative Party leader.

On Brexit

The ex-mayor of London addressed the question of Brexit saying he was "not aiming for a no-deal outcome" but that it "is only responsible to prepare for a no-deal".

"After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31," he added.

Reminiscing on the Brexit campaign in 2016 during which he was a key player in the Leave camp, Johnson said he remembered the campaign vividly, adding "the people who wanted to leave wanted to be heard".

He said if the UK's mainstream parties — the Conservatives and Labour — don't deliver Brexit then they face an "existential threat".

"I think if we now block it as parliamentarians we will wreak the whirlwind and face mortal retribution from the electorate.

On his past controversies

Johnson has been embroiled in several controversies linked to his public comments, most latterly when he said Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letterboxes".

He was asked about these polemics on Wednesday.

He said: "I'm sorry for the offence I've caused but I will continue to speak as directly as I can because that's what I think the British public want."

On British division

Johnson said he wanted to bring the countries of the UK closer together, labelling them the "awesome foursome".

On his past record

Referring to his time as mayor of London, he said he wanted to do for the whole country what we did in London.

"I took this city through riots and strikes," he said, and described the 2012 Olympics in the British capital when he was mayor as "no picnic".

On sticking to the law

A host of candidates in the running to replace May have admitted taking drugs.

Johnson — asked whether there is anything he wants to admit to — responded: "I can't say I've always observed the top speed limit of 70 mph in this country."

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