Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, is on the other side of the world, visiting New Zealand and Australia. But that has not stopped him having to field questions about Tory leadership difficulties. (We can probably downgrade it from “crisis”, but doubtless we will need to ratchet up the language again before too long.) Speaking at a press conference at New Zealand’s parliament buildings in Wellington in the last few hours, he urged Conservative MPs to back Theresa May, saying voters wanted no more “political kerfuffle”.
Johnson said that the government was “getting on with the business of governing”.
Let’s be clear, the election did not evolve entirely in the way the government had hoped or would have wanted. I’m going to put that out.
But the Labour party did not win, they were 50 seats behind. We have a workable system of getting stuff through the House of Commons. We have workable maority with our friends from Northern Ireland. We are getting on with the business of governing, which is overwhelmingly what the British people want to see.
Then, when asked if he ruled out mounting a leadership challenge himself, he said:
What the British people want to see is us getting on with the job. They see no vacancy, nor do they see any for any more political kerfuffle.
You can watch video of the exchange here. Alert viewers will notice that Johnson did not actually reply “yes” when asked if he was willing to rule out a leadership challenge.
Johnson said that New Zealand would be “at or near the front of the queue” for a free trade deal with the UK after Brexit.
He claimed that Brexit would not lead to Britain turning its back on the world.
People have got a democratic right to feel that their government is in charge of the situation and that was a bit what the whole Brexit thing was about. It wasn’t that people were hostile to immigrants, they weren’t hostile to people with talents and energy coming to the UK, they just wanted to feel that the British government had a handle on it.
I will say this until I’m blue in the face: Brexit is not, was not, will not be about Britain turning away from the world.
On the contrary, it is about us wanting to keep great relations with European friends and partners and do a great free trade deal with them, but it is also about rediscovering and intensifying friendships and partnerships around the world.
And he also dismissed suggestions that “infighting” in the Conservative party could jeopardise progress in trade talks. When this was put to him, he said any suggestion of discord in the Conservative party had “completely passed me by”.
Back in the northern hemisphere, politics is relatively quiet. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, is on a trip to the Czech Republic. And Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, has been out giving interviews about the government’s plans to ban the sale of new homes as leasehold. But I’m sure we will find something to blog about.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news (in so far as there is any) as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to publish a summary at lunchtime and another in the afternoon.
You can read all today’s Guardian politics stories here.
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