Dominic Raab has painted himself as “the conviction Brexiteer with a plan” and said the UK’s departure from the EU cannot be delivered with “bluff and bluster” as he set out his stall to be the next Tory leader.
The former Brexit Secretary spelled out his desire to break from the EU by October 31 even without a deal if necessary when he formally launched his campaign to take over as prime minister.
He vowed to return to Brussels to make a “best final offer” to replace the controversial backstop that has proved a sticking point in Parliament.
And he said he would restore discipline in Government and to bring forward a “Brexit budget” to cope with “this period of uncertainty”.
“We’re up against it and we won’t deliver Brexit with bluff and bluster,” he told the London event.
“I’m the conviction Brexiteer with the plan, the discipline and the focus to lead us out by the end of October.”
Mr Raab’s “bluff and bluster” comment was quickly interpreted in the Royal Festival Hall room where he delivered his keynote speech as an indirect comment about his toughest competition in the contest, Boris Johnson.
Seen as one of the most hardline Brexiteers among the Conservative candidates, Mr Raab was endorsed by former culture secretary Maria Miller at the event.
Fellow former Brexit secretary David Davis and MP Nadhim Zahawi were also among the attendees at the launch overlooking the London Eye.
Mr Raab’s speech came as the race to replace Theresa May began in earnest.
Nominations to stand in the contest officially opened and Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock were all formally launching their campaigns.