‘The circus has come to town’: How Tory MPs responded to Boris Johnson’s first address to 1922 committee
Johnson tells colleagues he is ‘not in favour’ of snap general election
A Tory MP has declared the “circus has come to town” after Boris Johnson addressed the 1922 committee for the first time as Conservative leader.
The remarks came as Mr Johnson was greeted to the meeting with a rapturous applause and desk-thumping from Tory MPs just hours after he emerged victorious in the race to be Britain’s next prime minister.
Mr Johnson, who will replace Theresa May in Downing Street on Wednesday, said he was “impatient” to start work, and in a message to those who did not vote for him, he added: “The love bombing starts now”.
According to MPs inside the room, Mr Johnson also told colleagues that he was “not in favour” of a snap general election and “reassured them” of his credentials as a “One Nation” Conservative.
Leaving the session before Mr Johnson had finished answering questions from colleagues, however, the Tory MP Keith Simpson said he “couldn’t take anymore”, adding: “The circus has come to town”.
Asked where prominent supporters were sitting in the room, Mr Simpson added: “They were all sitting in the body of the kirk trying to look as though they are not ambitious little sh***”.
Also speaking to reporters outside the meeting room, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the banging of desks was “the sound of the Conservative Party uniting”.
“One of the reasons I backed Boris is because he’s so good at bringing people together – he did that in just half an hour with the parliamentary party, and left everybody feeling good, and positive and cheerful,” he claimed. “A huge focus on the positive domestic agenda.”
Nicky Morgan, the former cabinet minister who did not publicly declare her backing for either Mr Johnson or Jeremy Hunt in the contest, told journalists the new Tory leader “makes the party feel better about itself”.
She added: “He provided reassurance, he was actually detailed in the answers, entertaining, but serious and we’ll have to see how things unfold in the next 48 hours.”
Mr Johnson, who was accompanied by the current home secretary, Sajid Javid, as he entered the room, will tomorrow unveil his cabinet after replacing Ms May at No 10.
Mark Spencer will become his chief whip – a key position as Mr Johnson attempts to govern with a working Tory-DUP majority of just two.