“I want to begin by thanking my opponent, Jeremy, by common consent an absolutely formidable campaigner and a great leader and a great politician.
Jeremy, in the course of 20 hustings, more, 20 hustings or hustings-style events, it was more than 3,000 miles by the way, it was about 7,000 miles that we did criss-crossing the country, you’ve been friendly, you’ve been good natured, you’ve been a font of excellent ideas, all of which I intend to steal forthwith.
And above all I want to thank our outgoing leader, Theresa May for her extraordinary service to this party and to this country.
It was a privilege. It was a privilege to serve in her Cabinet and to see the passion and determination that she brought to the many causes that are her legacy – from equal pay for men and women, to tackling the problems of mental health and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Thank you, Theresa. Thank you.
And I want to thank all of you. All of you here today and obviously I want (to thank) everybody in the Conservative Party for your hard work, for your campaigning, for your public spirit and obviously for the extraordinary honour and privilege you have just conferred on me.
And I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision.
And there may even be some people here who still wonder quite what they have done.
I would just point out to you of course nobody, no one party, no one person has a monopoly of wisdom. But if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party’s existence you will see that it is we Conservatives who have had the best insights, I think, into human nature.
And the best insights into how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart. And time and again it is to us that the people of this country have turned to get that balance right.
Between the instincts to own your own house, your own home, to earn and spend your own money, to look after your own family. Good instincts, proper instincts, noble instincts.
And the equally noble instinct to share. And to give everyone a fair chance in life. And to look after the poorest and the neediest and to build a great society.
And on the whole in the last 200 years it is we Conservatives who have understood best how to encourage those instincts to work together in harmony to promote the good of the whole country.
And today at this pivotal moment in our history we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble sets of instincts. Between the deep desire of friendship and free trade and mutual support in security and defence between Britain and our European partners.
And the simultaneous desire, equally deep and heartfelt, for democratic self-government in this country. And of course, there are some people who say that they’re irreconcilable and it just can’t be done.
And indeed I read in my Financial Times this morning, devoted reader that I am – seriously, it is a great, great, great British brand.
I read in my Financial Times this morning that there is no incoming leader, no incoming leader has ever faced such a set of daunting circumstances, it said.
Well I look at you this morning and I ask myself, do you look daunted? Do you feel daunted? I don’t think you look remotely daunted to me.
And I think that we know we can do it and that the people of this country are trusting in us to do it and we know that we will do it.
And we know the mantra of the campaign that has just gone by, in case you have forgotten it and you probably have, it is deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn – and that is what we are going to do.
We are all going to defeat Jeremy Corbyn.”