Boris blows Tory truce on Europe
Boris Johnson stirred up further trouble for David Cameron yesterday with a pitch for the leadership of the Tory eurosceptics.The controversial Mayor of London called for a referendum to take back powers from Brussels.
In a barnstorming speech, the London Mayor also flouted party policy by calling for the immediate scrapping of Labour's new 50 per cent tax rate for high earners and urged Mr Osborne not to over-regulate the financial sector.
It was a performance that wowed the party faithful and was seen by many as an attempt by Mr Johnson to position himself as leader in waiting.
An animated Boris launches his barnstorming performance
On Europe, Mr Johnson suggested that the Tories' promised referendum could take the form of a 'consultation' if the treaty is passed before they gain power. There could be a vote on 'key parts' of the treaty, rather than a referendum on the whole thing. But he said there should be 'a consultation as soon as possible.'
Later he added: 'I would much rather people had the option to vote in a referendum, but clearly that is going to be very difficult once the thing is signed off.'
The 'Boris problem' greatly complicated the day for Tory high command as Central Office launched a damage limitation exercise over Europe
In the hope of avoiding claims of a split with Mr Johnson, the Tory high command did not issue him with a public rebuke.
I didn't find much about many performances at the conference that kindled much of a fire, except for Boris and Hague. Andrew Lansley in his usual fine form walked out on stage and inserted both feet firmly in his mouth by mentioning the general election against strict orders from the top! When Boris breaks ranks, there is normally a good reason, but Lansley just comes across as complacent and inept.
Still, we can all hope that it's going to improve over the next few days.........