BORIS Johnson came under fire again after leadership rival Rory Stewart questioned whether he could be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button.
The Tory frontrunner was also likened to a clown and an elephant at the Aid Secretary’s bizarre campaign launch inside a circus tent.
But then Mr Stewart – who like Mr Johnson went to Eton and Balliol College, Oxford – took aim at his lack of seriousness and trustworthiness.
Asked if his campaign would not simply be swept aside by the overwhelming favourite among MPs and the party faithful, he replied: “I believe in this country, I believe the Conservative Party. I believe they are deeply wise, generous, thoughtful group of people.
“Every association I go to up and down the country, when you explain that no deal is a recipe for delay, that no deal is a non-existent thing.
“When you ask them, ‘do you really feel that this is the person that you want engaging with the detail on the future of your health and education system, is this the person you want writing the instructions to the nuclear submarines? Is this the man that you want embodying your nation on the world stage, and guiding you through the most difficult choice that Britain has faced for 50 years?’
“I trust the Conservative members to arrive at the correct answer.”
When he was asked if, with his launch event under a big top at London’s South Bank, he risked going from greatest showman to Conservative clown, Mr Stewart replied: “In the competition for who’s standing for the title of the greatest clown in this race there may be some competition.”
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He poked fun at Mr Johnson when he said: “I’m going to start with that great prancing elephant in the room, in this big circus tent. I’m speaking not about the leading leadership contender here.”
And Mr Stewart dismissed the Brexiteers like Mr Johnson for “telling fairy stories” and insisted instead his policies were based on prudence and realism.
His performance was interrupted by the notorious “Stop Brexit” campaigner who appears outside Parliament every day, but Mr Stewart told him the answer was not to lurch to the extremes but rather to seek compromise.
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