LONDON – Theresa May will demand Conservative unity following weeks of internal rows, saying that ministers should not focus on their own “job security” but that of “ordinary working people.”
The prime minister is expected to use her keynote Tory conference speech on Wednesday morning to say that ministers should “shape up” and do their “duty by Britain.”
The closing speech will end a week in which Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appeared to threaten her position as leader, before retreating.
May claimed on Tuesday that she was showing strong leadership by having a “diverse range of voices around the cabinet table.”
After receiving intense criticism from fellow cabinet ministers, Johnson threw his weight behind the prime minister in his speech on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: “He [Jeremy Corbyn] didn’t win. You won – we won. Theresa May won. She won more votes than any party leader and took this party to its highest share of the vote in any election in the last 25 years, and the whole country owes her a debt for her steadfastness in taking Britain forward as she will to a great Brexit deal.”
May will echo Winston Churchill in her peroration by saying “let us go forward together,” which was used on propaganda posters during the Second World War.
She will say: “Let us do our duty by Britain. Let us shape up and give the country the government it needs. For beyond this hall, beyond the gossip pages of the newspapers, and beyond the streets, corridors and meeting rooms of Westminster, life continues – the daily lives of ordinary working people go on.
“And they must be our focus today. Not worrying about our job security, but theirs. Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them.”
“Not focusing on our future, but on the future of their children and their grandchildren – doing everything we can to ensure their tomorrow will be better than our today,” the prime minister will add.
May will also announce plans for expanding council housing, with First Secretary of State Damian Green telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the prime minister will reveal proposals to “make it easier for councils to build new houses for rent.”
The speech has been overshadowed by another row over the foreign secretary after Johnson said that Sirte in Libya only has to “clear the dead bodies away” to become the new Dubai.
Tory MPs including Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry have called for his sacking following his “grossly insensitive comments.”