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Mr Johnson's activities at the conference will fuel speculation about his leadership ambitions, but Mr Lewis said his opposition to the Government's Brexit plan was not new and the Prime Minister's blueprint remained the only option on the table.

"Not because they believe they would enhance economic growth, but because they don't care about economic growth because they are more interested in redistributing wealth than in creating more of it", Hammond said.

The Prime Minister's decision to announce her long-awaited immigration policy late in the evening before Mr Johnson's speech was seen by some as an attempt to steal the media spotlight away from her most high-profile critic.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said people were "concerned about Mr Johnson's behaviour". May, just change her Brexit plan.

Ahead of his conference appearance, he was pictured out jogging, in what some interpreted as a "parody" of Mrs May's claim that the "naughtiest" thing she did as a child was to run through a field of wheat.

Mr Johnson made no open suggestion he would challenge Ms May, saying the party must back one of her earlier Brexit plans which he says she has ditched, and said one of the few predictions the Treasury department had got right was that he would not be prime minister.

"He's too volatile", said Alison Jolley, a party member from just outside Birmingham who cheered loudly for Mr. Johnson during his speech and laughed uproariously at his jokes. But she stops short of saying Mr. Johnson would make a good leader or that he should be pushing for the job now.

"I think he really set the right tone, I was anxious he would be divisive and speak against the Prime Minister".

Johnson, the figurehead for the campaign to leave the European Union and the bookmakers' favourite to replace May, has become the loudest critic, warning Conservatives that if they supported Chequers they could be signing up to the party's electoral death.

This similarity was picked up by a cabinet minister who told The Sun that Johnson has been sounding more like Trump since he had a meeting with the U.S. president's ally Steve Bannon.

"For the first time in decades, it will be this country that controls and chooses who we want to come here".

May acknowledged that Johnson's speech had made her "cross" but said she was sticking to her Brexit blueprint, which would keep Britain aligned to many European Union rules in return for remaining in the bloc's single market for goods.

May has had a tough year since a disastrous 2017 conference speech, when she was her plagued by a cough and interrupted by a prankster while parts of the backdrop fell down as she was speaking.

"He is absolutely right about the threat that Chequers poses to our democracy, our country and ultimately the fortunes of the Conservative Party if we stick with it", Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative lawmaker, said.

"But we have been very clear, we have got to deliver a deal for the United Kingdom that's good for our economy, make sure people continue to have the opportunity to have job security and job opportunities for the future and respect that referendum and deliver on getting back control of our border, of our laws, of our money and that's what this package does".

Chequers was, he said, "not what we voted for" and a recipe for "continued acrimony" as it would encourage calls for another vote, something which would be "disastrous for trust in politics".

There was loud applause and cheers as he said: "For one last time, I urge our friends in government to deliver what the people voted for, to back Theresa May in the best way possible - by softly, quietly, and sensibly backing her original plan [Lancaster House]".


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