Boris Johnson is “yesterday’s news”, his Tory leadership rival Sajid Javid said, as he positioned himself as a “new kind of leader” with a credible plan to deliver Brexit.
In a deeply personal speech, the Home Secretary said he was the right man to lead the country because of his “background, ideas and positive vision” for the future of Britain.
He said he wanted to bring energy and ambition to the Conservatives, and sought to position himself as a “next generation” candidate with a background and life experience that connects with “90% of the country”.
He criticised the “old insiders with the same old school ties” – understood to be a reference to Old Etonians Mr Johnson and Rory Stewart, and Charterhouse alumnus Jeremy Hunt.
He said: “I’m a change candidate. Boris Johnson is yesterday’s news.
“He’s been around in politics for a while, he’s achieved a lot, he’s still got a big role to play, but I think if we are trying to connect with the next generation and move forward as a country then I think it’s time for the next generation with a bold new agenda.
“What I can do in terms of the policies, I think being able to articulate the policies, it’s not just about articulating that core message – I think the messenger makes a real difference as well.”
On Brexit, Mr Javid said he had the experience outside government to help him deliver the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and said he wanted to change the controversial Irish backstop.
“When I look at my own experience of doing deals – big international deals in the 19, 20-year career I had before I came into politics, I started at the bottom of the finance industry and finished towards the top – and that was because I built a reputation of doing many multi, multibillion-dollar deals…
“Whilst I think no one has got perfect experience to deliver Brexit because no one has done anything like it before, I think with that experience that I’ve got outside government and the experience I’ve got in government… I think I’m in a very good position to get a good Brexit deal for the United Kingdom.”