Bizarre Boris Johnson speech covers zombies, boils and bondage

Without pain and anxiety, there can be no triumph or success, the UK Foreign Secretary told his adoring fans.

Just how much suffering the British Conservative party is willing to take in Boris Johnson's pursuit of victory has been put to the test this week.

He was, of course, talking about the country's future, but the conference darling's utterances are very rarely taken at face value.

It is time to be bold, to seize opportunities he said and his conference speech will do little to assuage claims he is preparing a leadership bid.

For the first time during the gathering in Manchester, the conference hall was packed, standing room only. So popular is the Foreign Secretary that one of his own ministers, Sir Alan Duncan, was forbidden from sneaking in a side door by security staff and told to join the lengthy queue.

Little sister Rachel hovered at the side of the hall, taking pictures and giving the occasional whoop and cheer.

But while the rank and file clearly have obviously not fallen out of love with the mischievous Mr Johnson, some colleagues around the Cabinet table are clearly losing patience with his activities.

Pot shots from behind are an "occupational hazard in my line of work", the Foreign Secretary joked.

Mr Johnson's leadership intentions have dominated every aspect of the gathering in Manchester, including the UK Prime Minister's tour of the television studios ahead of her own conference address.

In a 29-minute speech, he made sure to include a token display of loyalty, insisting the Cabinet was united on every syllable of Theresa May's Florence speech on Brexit.

But the PM was not around to witness the address from the conference platform and other senior figures made clear they would be staying away.

Never-knowingly underwritten, the speech was littered with vivid language. Boils, bondage, jugulars, zombies; hardly a second went by without the rhetoric being ramped up to the max.

Russian honey traps, the pharaohs of Egypt - the bland Government sound bites dutifully trotted out by colleagues were thankfully absent.

Jeremy Corbyn is a "super-annuated space cadet" whose failure to condemn the regime in Venezuela shows he is "Caracas", he joked.

Mr Johnson steered clear of an overt tilt at the top job, striking an emollient tone after a turbulent week. But neither did the address dispel chatter about his intentions.

It had been billed as the "let the lion roar" speech, but a lion's roar can be heard from five miles away. This was more of a predatory prowl around his prey.


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