Boris Johnson vs Theresa May: who would make better Conservative Party leader?

The Mayor of London's conference speech was a rallying cry to Conservative party members - ahead of both next week's by-election in Clacton and the 2015 election.

Boris Johnson, also standing as a Parliamentary Candidate in Uxbridge South Ruislip at the General Election, told delegates that he would: "see you at the barricades."

If the Conservatives were to lose in 2015, then the Mayor of London would likely be a candidate for the leadership of the party, as would the Home Secretary Theresa May, who spoke immediately before him.

Ms May told delegates that "While we still have the chance, we must act to destroy Isil", having struck a more compassionate tone in the opening of her speech, calling for the reform of stop-and-search.

Michael Deacon, Telegraph Sketchwriter, who says that Ms May has previously seemed like "the white witch of Narnia", assesses whether she could beat Mr Johnson, "the party's cheerleader," in a leadership contest.

Read more: Boris Johnson and Theresa May are the only candidates for the next Conservative leader, argues Robert Colvile, Senior Comment Editor

Read what happened on Tuesday at the conference »

Give Brooks Newmark another job in Government, says Boris Johnson

Mr Newmark quit as charities minister at the weekend after it emerged that he had sent explicit messages and photographs over the internet in a tabloid sting.

Speaking to reporters at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Johnson suggested that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, should bring him back into the Government.

Asked if he Mr Newmark should have resigned for “sexting” someone, Mr Johnson said: “I am here to talk about what we are doing to take the country forward and why I think the Conservatives should win the next general election.

“If you are asking about Brooks I have a very high regard for Brooks and a great deal of sympathy and I am sure he will be coming back very soon.”

Conservative Party Conference 2014: Boris Johnson arrives in Birmingham

Boris Johnson was greeted by flashing cameras and reporters posing questions as he entered the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

Responding to Mr Osborne's speech during a visit to a factory in Newcastle-under-Lyme on his way to the conference, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "If you want to have the cash to pay for the whole of society, then you need the economy to be going gang-busters.

"The most important thing for us in the UK economy is you've got to reform welfare and it's quite right that you should be looking at ways of improving how it's spent, but you've got to get the economy moving because that's the way to pay for the whole she-bang."

Jumping into the arms of Ukip only helps Ed Miliband

We are not against migration per se – indeed, as free-market Conservatives we admire the get-up-and-go of immigrants, and we can see how a modern economy relies on talented people being able to come to our shores. We just think it is not unreasonable for a government to have some idea of who is coming, how many there are, what they propose to do, and how local councils will cover the cost of their children’s education and all the other expenditure they might incur to the taxpayers of this country.

A return to sensible and practical border controls – that is something we agree on; and we agree on the need to scrap the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs every family £400 a year in extra food costs, and to stop the insane levels of meddling that the Commission seems to enjoy – such as telling us how much suction power we are allowed to have in our vacuum cleaners. We have a proud and ancient trading standards department. We have plenty of officials whose lives have been consecrated to the study of vacuum cleaners and their workings; and frankly it should be up to the sovereign people of this country and their elected representatives to decide how vigorously they want to suck up the dust mites in their carpets or indeed anything else.

The great thing about having such views is that we are no longer seen as fruitcakes or extremists, and that we are no longer alone. There are people around Europe who also believe that the bureaucracy has become intrusive, and that the costs for business have become too high. They look at the unemployment rates in the eurozone, and they see the need for reform, and a self-denying ordinance from Brussels. They agree with us, that you could very usefully decide not to impose so much regulation on small businesses – say, those with fewer than 10 employees.

But consider, my dear fellow Eurosceptic: there is only one prime minister in the current EU who is capable of collating that support and turning it into a new treaty, and only one man who is going to be able to give the people of this country the vote on the EU that we have been deprived of for the past 40 years, and that man is David Cameron.

I know this point is trite, and that you have now heard it a million times, but it happens to be true. There are only two people who are in a position to take the keys to Downing Street next May, and they are David Cameron or Ed Miliband. I know that you disagree vehemently with most of what Ed Miliband says and does – and so I must urge you not to allow the disaster of a Miliband premiership.

I thought his amazing oversight last week – when he “forgot” to mention the economy – was in fact a piece of subconscious self-defence. There is a part of him that knows his economic policies are risible, or at least capable of being destroyed under sustained examination, so he decided to keep them under wraps. When he was feeling more candid, a few months ago – and before the economic recovery in this country had got into its stride – he used to explain his vision for the country. It was quite simple, he said: he wanted Britain to be more like… wait for it… France! Yes, France – where they have unemployment at 12 per cent and a top rate of tax at 75 per cent and where so many intelligent French people have fled the Hollande regime that London is the fourth biggest French city on earth.

In so far as he was willing to spell out his economic policy for this country, Mili-Hollande wants a swingeing and destructive new property tax, rather like the French impot sur les grandes fortunes, that would end up hitting hundreds of thousands of people who happen to be living in a family home whose value has inflated through no fault of their own.

Is that what you want, my friend? A Miliband tax on thrift, on effort, on people who have saved up and worked hard to pay their mortgages? I can’t believe that is part of your agenda – any more than you want to see Miliband and Balls come back and put income taxes up, as they are pledged to do, for all who earn more than £26,000 a year.

This isn’t the time to give any kind of accidental assistance to this rubbish: this is the time to unite and fight for what we believe in; and the auguries for 2015 have never been better. Labour are puttering at 35 per cent in the polls; they should be miles ahead to have any chance of winning.

To put it another way, I was much further behind Labour in London in 2007, and went on to win the mayoralty in 2008. Tories tend to close the gap in the last few months as people look harder at what is being offered, and I believe in the next few months and years the news about this country and its prospects are going to get better and better – if we can keep Labour out.

If you really want to let this country sleepwalk into a Labour government, then that is your prerogative. You can close your eyes and let it happen. You kip if you want to; the rest of us are going to fight and win.

Jumping into the arms of Ukip only helps Ed Miliband

We are not against migration per se – indeed, as free-market Conservatives we admire the get-up-and-go of immigrants, and we can see how a modern economy relies on talented people being able to come to our shores. We just think it is not unreasonable for a government to have some idea of who is coming, how many there are, what they propose to do, and how local councils will cover the cost of their children’s education and all the other expenditure they might incur to the taxpayers of this country.

A return to sensible and practical border controls – that is something we agree on; and we agree on the need to scrap the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs every family £400 a year in extra food costs, and to stop the insane levels of meddling that the Commission seems to enjoy – such as telling us how much suction power we are allowed to have in our vacuum cleaners. We have a proud and ancient trading standards department. We have plenty of officials whose lives have been consecrated to the study of vacuum cleaners and their workings; and frankly it should be up to the sovereign people of this country and their elected representatives to decide how vigorously they want to suck up the dust mites in their carpets or indeed anything else.

The great thing about having such views is that we are no longer seen as fruitcakes or extremists, and that we are no longer alone. There are people around Europe who also believe that the bureaucracy has become intrusive, and that the costs for business have become too high. They look at the unemployment rates in the eurozone, and they see the need for reform, and a self-denying ordinance from Brussels. They agree with us, that you could very usefully decide not to impose so much regulation on small businesses – say, those with fewer than 10 employees.

But consider, my dear fellow Eurosceptic: there is only one prime minister in the current EU who is capable of collating that support and turning it into a new treaty, and only one man who is going to be able to give the people of this country the vote on the EU that we have been deprived of for the past 40 years, and that man is David Cameron.

I know this point is trite, and that you have now heard it a million times, but it happens to be true. There are only two people who are in a position to take the keys to Downing Street next May, and they are David Cameron or Ed Miliband. I know that you disagree vehemently with most of what Ed Miliband says and does – and so I must urge you not to allow the disaster of a Miliband premiership.

I thought his amazing oversight last week – when he “forgot” to mention the economy – was in fact a piece of subconscious self-defence. There is a part of him that knows his economic policies are risible, or at least capable of being destroyed under sustained examination, so he decided to keep them under wraps. When he was feeling more candid, a few months ago – and before the economic recovery in this country had got into its stride – he used to explain his vision for the country. It was quite simple, he said: he wanted Britain to be more like… wait for it… France! Yes, France – where they have unemployment at 12 per cent and a top rate of tax at 75 per cent and where so many intelligent French people have fled the Hollande regime that London is the fourth biggest French city on earth.

In so far as he was willing to spell out his economic policy for this country, Mili-Hollande wants a swingeing and destructive new property tax, rather like the French impot sur les grandes fortunes, that would end up hitting hundreds of thousands of people who happen to be living in a family home whose value has inflated through no fault of their own.

Is that what you want, my friend? A Miliband tax on thrift, on effort, on people who have saved up and worked hard to pay their mortgages? I can’t believe that is part of your agenda – any more than you want to see Miliband and Balls come back and put income taxes up, as they are pledged to do, for all who earn more than £26,000 a year.

This isn’t the time to give any kind of accidental assistance to this rubbish: this is the time to unite and fight for what we believe in; and the auguries for 2015 have never been better. Labour are puttering at 35 per cent in the polls; they should be miles ahead to have any chance of winning.

To put it another way, I was much further behind Labour in London in 2007, and went on to win the mayoralty in 2008. Tories tend to close the gap in the last few months as people look harder at what is being offered, and I believe in the next few months and years the news about this country and its prospects are going to get better and better – if we can keep Labour out.

If you really want to let this country sleepwalk into a Labour government, then that is your prerogative. You can close your eyes and let it happen. You kip if you want to; the rest of us are going to fight and win.

It would be bonkers to rewrite the constitution overnight

They had the Labour Party in Scotland in a state of meltdown, with Ed Miliband’s ratings lower among Scots than those of David Cameron. Poor Miliband was so invertebrate in his campaigning that he contrived to make Gordon Brown – probably the least successful prime minister of the past 100 years – look relatively charismatic.

The Yes campaign had ensured that only people in Scotland could vote on the future of our country – excluding even the vast numbers of Scots who live and work in London, many of whom were not happy at the idea of becoming foreigners. The Yessers were working with the grain of general public disgruntlement at the “Westminster” elite and old-fashioned politics.

They had all this going for them and they still managed to lose, and lose big. It wasn’t close. It was a lead, for the Noes, of 10.6 per cent. The question is settled for a generation, surely. I mean, for 20 or 30 years at least. The people have spoken, and they have plumped for Britain; and thank heavens for that.

Now is the time we should be talking about the future of Britain and the colossal potential of British business and British technology and British universities, and all the wonderful things that we British people are going to do together; and here is Salmond back on the telly, only four days later, claiming that there needs to be some kind of re-run, and saying he still wants to get divorced. Why the hell?

He says it is because of the “vow” that the party leaders made, on the eve of the poll, that encouraged people to vote No. They promised that they would give extra powers to Scotland if they stayed in the Union – and Salmond now says that they are breaking those promises.

What a load of tosh. Let us leave aside his claim that the No campaign depended on those last-ditch undertakings (though I doubt very much that the vow made that much difference to the result). It is simply not true that the undertakings have been breached; on the contrary, all political parties are going to huge lengths to be obliging. The “vow” that appears on the front of last week’s Daily Record is actually quite vague. It boils down to “extensive” new powers for the Scottish parliament and government, and an agreement to get to work on the agenda as soon as possible. David Cameron is putting William Hague in charge, and we are promised details by Burns night in January.

That strikes me as blisteringly fast, when you consider the gravity of the matters at stake. If we give any more powers to Scottish politicians, then we simply must address the basic unfairness to England; indeed, it should have been addressed years ago, as soon as devolution kicked in.

I remember sitting in fury as an MP in 2004, and watching as Labour used Scottish MPs to impose a system of tuition fees on England – when English MPs had no reciprocal say over the arrangements in Scotland; and when those tuition fees would not apply to any students in Scotland except, of course, English students, who are made to pay more than students from any other EU country. Those Scottish MPs had no jurisdiction over education, health, criminal justice etc in Scotland; and yet they were being used as lobby-fodder to rule England. This is a basic problem of legitimacy, and it must be sorted out – probably by excluding Scottish MPs from many votes on devolved matters.

It won’t necessarily be easy, but it isn’t beyond the wit of man. It can be done, while keeping the Union together and giving Scotland the “extensive” new powers that have been agreed. It is just bonkers to say that it can be done overnight.

We should also proceed with devolutionary measures to promote growth in the great cities of England, by giving them more powers to raise locally the taxes that are spent locally. Again, these are not snap-of-the-finger solutions (and they don’t answer the West Lothian question of imbalanced parliamentary representation); but London and the eight core cities have put forward some good, modest and workable solutions, and they deserve to be taken seriously.

All this will need calm and time and thought; and all will be achieved much more easily if the Scottish nationalists realise that for the foreseeable future they should forget their yearning for a split with England, and celebrate all the progressive and glorious things the British are going to do together.

As for dear Alex, you fought a good fight, but you lost decisively, and now is the time for a period of silence. Haud your wheesht, laddie. Save your breath to cool your porridge.

Lend a hand: Boris Johnson presents Team London awards

Kishor Shah, a 54-year-old IT consultant, had come from St Ives in Cambridgeshire where for the past three decades he has been the mainstay of his local hockey club. “From training to kit to umpiring to matches, Kishor is across them all,” wrote the club’s chairman, Richard Jones in nominating him. “He’s an inspiration. Quite simply the place wouldn’t run, and wouldn’t be the same, without him”.

The second name on the shortlist, 28-year-old Katie Metcalfe, had travelled up with her mother, Penny, from Truro in Cornwall. Her nomination came through the charity AYME – Association of Young People with ME. Having first got involved as a recipient of AYME’s services at the age of 18, when developing ME meant that she had to forego her place at university, Katie had felt well enough three years later to become a volunteer herself at the charity, working to organise the sort of self-help groups she had been attending. She now runs a group of 20 other young volunteers, coordinating the support AYME offers nationwide.

“I’ve started doing an OU degree,” she said. “I worry that no employer will ever want me because I have nothing to put on my CV, compared to my contemporaries, who all have degrees now, but a lot of the work I have been doing as a volunteer at AYME has a direct application in workplaces. I hope it will one day persuade an employer to take a chance on me.”

And the third individual on the Telegraph shortlist, and in attendance, was 43-year-old Elizabeth Ewart from Wanbrough, near Swindon in Wiltshire. She had been nominated by members of her local community. After being diagnosed with cancer five years ago, this mother-of-two had reassessed her life.

“I had a strong sense that if I didn’t do what I’d always wanted to do now, I might never do it”. She gave up work as an accountant in the oil industry during her treatment, and as part her recovery started to get involved in volunteering. “I wanted to give something back to my local community that had been so supportive during my illness.”

She began by reading with children in her local primary school, then moved on to running sessions for residents in an old people’s home, taking the family’s pet retriever, Darcy, with her. “Some of the people there have sensory impairments, so they just like the experience of stroking him. Others have suffered strokes and have impaired use in their arms. I’ve developed some exercises for them where they throw a ball and Darcy brings it back. Very simple things but they bring such joy to the residents.”

She has also joined the Samaritans, manning the phones regularly, and now spends another evening supporting troubled teenagers through the charity Step. “Every time I got involved with one thing,” she said, “it led on to another”.

And, on the night, it was Elizabeth Ewart whose name came out of the golden envelope. She was called up on stage to receive the Daily Telegraph readers’ Volunteer of the Year award from Boris Johnson. In their citation, the judges wrote: “She is a true all-rounder, a self-starter, a real example of how lending a hand leads to something more and more and more – and an inspiration in terms of putting something back after life took a bad turn for her”.

The same could have been said of many others there in City Hall’s main chamber. It was an uplifting evening full of inspiring stories of volunteering.

telegraph.co.uk/lendahand

Drones can’t take out all ‘Jihadi Johns’, we need Muslims onside

Let us be still more precise. Let us say that this missile could be guaranteed to go with 100 per cent accuracy through the front door of the nauseating character known as “Jihadi John”: the man who has made a series of horrific snuff movies, watched around the world, in the latest of which he is believed to have killed an entirely innocent British aid worker, David Haines, by cutting off his head. Let us suppose, furthermore, that the drone or missile was guaranteed to wipe out the terrorist and his colleagues, and no one else. My question to you is: would you press that button?

Even if we could take out this particular cell of terrorists – even if we could be sure of sending Jihadi John down to Shaitan – there are many more like him. There are tens of thousands of black-clad Isil fighters, full to the back teeth of their bilious hatred. We would need more drones than even the Pentagon can afford; and even then we could not be sure of hitting them all. No one has yet put forward a convincing plan for removing Isil that does not mean some kind of ground commitment – and that we are determined to avoid, for very good reasons. As soon as we had Western troops in the theatre, there would be Western captives – and more beheadings, more horror on YouTube. We could plan for Western infantry to take Raqqa, and they undoubtedly could – and it would gladden my heart if they did – but we must recognise that it would be a massive operation; and in spite of all the anger about the murders of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and now Haines, it is not a commitment that would carry public support in either Britain or America.

That is our predicament: a sense of rage, frustration – but also deep public hesitation about how far it is prudent to go in sorting it out. All I would say is that we cannot simply sit back and do nothing.

These Isil terrorists have created a would-be state that is antithetical to our values and a deep well of future terror. They are not only beheading Western captives; they are organising systematic rape, enslavement and mass murders of those who do not share their religious beliefs. These include Chaldean Christians, Yazidis, and above all they include the Shias.

Who do they really hate, these Isil nutjobs? It’s not Israel; it’s not America; it’s the people who think that the true heir of the Prophet Mohammed was a chap called Ali, rather than the so-called rightly guided caliphs. It is a dispute that goes back to the 7th century AD and the “Battle of the Camel”, between Ali and Mohammed’s wife Aisha.

You or I might think it was deranged to care about these doctrinal points, just as it was deranged for Christians to slaughter each other over their own tiny differences. Frankly I don’t give a monkey’s.

The real tragedy of the emergence of Isil is that it has been connived at and almost certainly financed by some in rich Sunni states – Saudi Arabia, some Gulf states – who mistakenly see them (or saw them) as a counterweight to Shia influence in the region, in the form of Tehran and Hizbollah. It’s about geopolitical rivalries; and in the face of the horror emerging in Iraq and Syria, it is time for all Muslim states to put aside such differences, and to unite against a group that so grievously misrepresents Islam. That is the coalition that Mr Obama is trying to build now; and he is right. It is overwhelmingly in the interest of the Muslim world to band together and to defeat a terrorist perversion of their religion. It is in Britain’s interest to be there to support, to be engaged, and to give whatever diplomatic and military help we can.

We may not be able to bring peace at a stroke, but David Cameron is absolutely correct to want to use British forces to help bring the killers of David Haines to justice, to stop the growth of their disgusting regime, and if possible to send them into headlong retreat. For all our occasional spasms of self-doubt, we are one of the great powers of the world with some of the finest armed forces. We would be mad not to use our defence capability, where we can, to make the world a better place. If, by the way, you believe in the continued existence of that British Army, Navy and RAF, then come to Trafalgar Square at 6pm tonight for the Unity Rally, and show your support for the United Kingdom.

Boris calls for diesel scrappage scheme

“I feel very sorry for them,” the Mayor said. “This has been a massive failure of public policy, millions of people were told they were doing the right thing, the clean thing, the environmentally friendly thing, by buying a diesel.

“They now feel very hacked off now they're told they are more polluting."

The Mayor also proposed a controversial plan for “workplace parking levies” in London, which would charge companies for each parking space they use, and a “geo-fencing” virtual zone within which hybrid cars would automatically switch to electric power.

Mr Johnson published new research on Wednesday, commissioned by City Hall, which ranked London 15th of 36 major cities for clean air, refuting previous claims it is one of the most polluted in Europe.

But MPs told the Mayor he needed to do more to improve air quality in London. Joan Walley, the chair of the committee, said the £10 levy “will leave many Londoners to suffer potentially serious health consequences simply because of where they live or work.”

Earlier on Wednesday Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, announced a said a Labour government would help local authorities outside of London introduce low emission zones.

Councils across the country are facing fines from the EU due to pollution levels which cause 29,000 premature deaths each year, she said.

But her comments prompted concerns among motoring groups who said they would amount to “either a charge or a complete ban or penalty” for diesel drivers.

Paul Watters, head of Roads Policy at the AA, said any such scheme should give drivers eight to 10 years’ notice before penalties are introduced, and be complimented by a scrappage schemes.

“To suddenly throw the switch too quickly would upset the car market and upset drivers and introduce extra costs or a ban, and either one is not going to be very popular,” he said.

Scottish independence: Decapitate Britain, and we kill off the greatest political union ever

What we are fighting to protect is not so much the Act of Union of 1707, or even the United Kingdom. The Government has decided that in the event of the Scots voting to break away, the “UK” will simply refer in future to England, Wales and Northern Ireland; though no one seems to have a clue exactly what this truncated state will be called. No: the entity under mortal threat next week is Britain itself. You cannot refer to a state called “Britain” unless you include Scotland, because it is a basic fact of geography that Britain comprises everything from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

Look at the map – so often rendered by cartoonists from the 18th century onwards as Britannia sitting down: rump in east Anglia, feet in Cornwall, and topped off with that sweeping Scottish cerebrum and helmet. Chop it off – decapitate Britain at Carlisle and you can no longer call it Britain; and what goes for geography must go for politics, too. Take Scotland away from England and you are losing a critical part of our political nomenclature. There was no British government before the union with Scotland; there was no British electorate; there were no British interests. There was England and Wales, and there was Scotland. Take away Scotland, and we destroy Britain.

About 15 years ago people such as John Redwood and Peter Hitchens produced books called The End of Britain or The Abolition of Britain. They saw the principal threat as coming from the EU, I think; and though they were obviously right to be concerned about the erosion of sovereignty, I don’t think either of them expected the constitutional annihilation of the country. Now those book titles look prophetic, frankly.

Every year I speak at a ceremony in City Hall, at which we congratulate people who have lived and worked hard in this country, and who have become British citizens. They come from all over the world, and it is always moving to see the enthusiasm with which they sing the national anthem, and then have their picture taken with the big photo of the Queen. I always tell them that in becoming British, they have achieved something fantastic – and they plainly agree.

What are we to tell them in the future, if the Scots vote to go it alone? That they have become citizens of the rUK (rest of the UK) and that they must uphold rUkish values? We could tell them that they were all now “English” – but that doesn’t mean quite the same in a city where 40 per cent were born abroad and where not everyone can have an “English rose” complexion.

Britain, British, Britishness: these are precious terms, and they stand for something wonderful across the world. They represent freedom, democracy, an independent judiciary, sense of humour, reasonableness, you name it. They weren’t just the result of the exertions of the English and Welsh, and they weren’t just Scottish achievements. Johnson needed Boswell, and vice versa. It was the fusion: the Scottish scientist in the London lab who produced penicillin; the Scottish inventor who went out to the British empire and invented the telephone; the Scottish economists and philosophers whose ideas formed the basis for Britain’s commercial and political greatness.

Together the English and the Scots built the British foreign service and the British Army, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the British Museum. It is very far from clear what would happen to any of those institutions – all of them world-class, all of them now in peril from this vote.

Is Salmond going to ask for the Elgin Marbles to be restored to Elgin? No one has thought any of this through, and I am frankly appalled by the complacency and apathy of so many of my non-political friends – people who haven’t focused at all on the debate, and think we can afford to let the Scots go because a) we subsidise them, and b) they have so many Labour MPs.

Something tells me that in the end the Scots will step back from the brink, but in the next few days we need to be explaining passionately that this is not just about Scotland – though Scotland would lose heavily from the split. This is about all of us. I am praying that we will wake from this sleepwalk to tragedy; and that the Scots vote no to divorce, and yes to Britain, the greatest political union ever.

Boris Johnson: Why the EU is like a lobster