Boris Johnson’s Tory conference speech: 5 things you need to know

Rather than face MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, Boris Johnson cowered from scrutiny and delivered his first conference speech as leader of the Tory party.

Here are the key takeaways from a rambling address that overflowed with Brexit fanaticism – free from policy announcements and a coherent vision, and almost solely focused on the Tories’ dangerous obsession with an extreme “do or die” Brexit.

1) He used the phrase “get Brexit done” thirteen times

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain, with all 32 local authorities rejecting Brexit. Scotland’s opposition to Brexit was underlined in this year’s EU elections, in which the SNP won half of the Scotland’s seats – the best result in the party’s history, while Scottish Tories slumped into fourth place.

According to the UK government’s own analysis, it’s clear that “getting Brexit done” would slash up to 100,000 Scottish jobs, cost every person up to £2,300 a year and weaken Scotland’s economy in the long term. We can’t accept the hard-right Tories dragging Scotland out of the European Union against its clearly expressed will.

2) Irish officials already dismissed his “breakthrough” Brexit plan as “unworkable”

Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals have already been described as unworkable and unacceptable by the Irish government and opposition politicians, as well as being illegal under British law, which bans any new infrastructure on the Irish border that did not exist before Brexit day.

The plans that Tories desperately spin as a “breakthrough” look like they’re designed to fail, so that Boris Johnson can shift the blame on the EU. It’s clear that Johnson’s hardline approach is yet another push towards a catastrophic no-deal Brexit – aimed at satisfying his far-right Vote Leave cronies who are now running Downing Street.

3) Boris Johnson suggested he will not seek Brexit extension and might break the law – he must be stopped

Boris Johnson insisted he will take the UK out of the European Union on October 31, “whatever happens“. This comes amid suggestions from senior government ministers, as well as Johnson himself, that he would be prepared to break the law by not respecting the Benn Act, which obliges the Prime Minister to extend Article 50 and avoid no-deal.

The fact that the Tory government repeatedly says it will not seek an extension highlights the urgency of the threat we face, and underlines the need for opposition parties to unite behind the SNP’s plan to remove Boris Johnson from office with a vote of no-confidence.

At a time of national crisis, doing nothing is not an option – this shambolic Tory government must be stopped.

4) He claimed Tories are the “party of the NHS”

Boris Johnson is the architect of the infamous lie that claimed Brexit would give the NHS extra £350 million a week – a ludicrous claim that has been rejected by the UK Statistics Authority as a “misuse of official statistics”.

Instead, under the Tories, England’s NHS has endured the longest period of austerity in its history – affecting A&E performance, causing serious staffing shortages, and leading to the biggest junior doctors’ strike in decades.

What’s more, an extreme Tory no-deal Brexit risks the NHS being lined up for sale to Donald Trump in a slash-and-burn trade deal. Our message is crystal clear: our NHS is not and must never be “on the table” in trade negotiations with Trump or anyone else.

Meanwhile in Scotland, health spending is at a record high, with spending set to rise to £13.9 billion, the best performing A&E in almost four years, and the highest number of GPs per head of population in the UK – all while we protect free prescriptions and free personal care for over 65s. Read more here.

5) He claimed he will “take back control of fisheries and the extraordinary marine wealth of Scotland” – facts and the Tory record say otherwise

For decades, the Tories at Westminster have described Scotland’s fishing communities as “expendable” in European negotiations, and the UK government’s Brexit negotiations have once again exposed that Scottish fishermen being treated as a mere bargaining chip in a great Tory sell-out.

Boris Johnson is unable to restore control and sovereignty over Scotland’s waters – despite countless promises and hollow claims of Scottish Tory MPs, the political declaration of the Brexit deal includes access and quota shares in the Future Economic Partnership.