The press conference is now over. There were plenty of other journalists wanting to answer questions, but Boris Johnson would not take them.
PMQs starts in 10 minutes. I almost always cover PMQs live, but for the next half an hour or so I will focus instead on unpacking the Johnson launch, with a summary, analysis and reaction.
I will pick up highlights from PMQs later.
Johnson refuses to commit to resigning if UK still in EU after October
Q: [From my colleague Heather Stewart] You have promised to leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. Will you commit to resign if you fail to meet that deadline?
Johnson says he understands why MPs are trying today to block a no-deal Brexit.
But there is a real existential threat to the government if it does not get this done.
It will be very difficult for MPs if they fail to deliver Brexit.
It was right to have a referendum. The people delivered a clear answer.
If MPs block it, they will “reap the whirlwind’.
He says he is just saying to colleagues, let’s get this done.
He says he is not going to pretend it will be “plain sailing”.
His team will work flat out. He thinks he will get the result he needs.
If there has been one failing, it is that the UK has not made enough of the future partnership with the EU.
Not enough has been done to promote “a new Europeanism, and a new Conservative sense of Europeanism”.
He says some bilateral relationships have declined. Language teaching has declined.
It is time to intensify those partnerships, he says.
- Johnson refuses to commit to resigning if UK still in EU after October.
Q: [From the Financial Times’ George Parker] You famously said “f- business”. What do you say to FT readers worried about this? And why did you say it?
Johnson says he loves the FT. He has the app, and reads it every day. He says he thought the anti-banking stance taken by some after the crash was “disastrous”. And not everyone in financial services is wealthy.
As mayor, he had to sell the UK abroad.
If he is PM, there will be no more committed salesperson for the UK.
Q: Can we sort out this drugs question. You told GC you had taken cocaine as a student. Were you telling the truth?
Johnson says he was 19 at the time. The “canonical account” of this has appeared many times. He says he is focusing on his vision for the future.
He says he does not want to be blown off track. Let’s focus on what Conservatism is, and what it can do.
And they also want a leader who can fight off Jeremy Corbyn, and the Brexit party.
- Johnson refuses to confirm whether he took cocaine as a student.
Q: Have you done anything illegal? And do you regret any of the mistakes that you have made? Would you change as PM?
Johnson says he cannot swear that he has always observed the 70mph speed limit.
But is he someone who does what he promises to do as a politician? And the answer is yes.
We said we would do X. And we did X plus 10.
He says knife crime was a big problem when he became mayor. He had to take tough decisions. He says Kit Malthouse and James Cleverly, two MPs now backing him who worked for him as mayor, took tough decisions.
He says stop and search was successful. There is nothing kinder you can do than take a knife off a young person, he says.
He says there was a 32% reduction in serious youth violence when he was mayor.
He says politicians should get behind the police, and support them properly.
Q: Many of you colleagues worry about your character ..
Q: Your character. Alistair Burt said you brought shame on this country when you described Muslim women as pillar boxes. People who have worked with you do not think you are fit to be PM.
Johnson says some of his colleagues do back him.
But he wants to address the point. Sometimes “plaster comes off the ceiling” when he says things. But people feel alienated from politicians because they think they are “muffling and veiling” their language.
If he causes offence, he is sorry for that. But he will continue to speak as directly as he can.
Johnson says he will take six questions.
Q: You said Brexit would be easy, and it wasn’t. You have a reputation for making mistakes. You are telling leavers one thing and remainers another. Can the country trust you?
Yes, says Johnson.
He rejects the claim that he is inconsistent on Brexit.
He does not want no-deal, but he wants to prepare for no-deal. The best way to avoid no-deal is to make the preparations now for it, he say.
He says this is the way to get a deal.
He says the team he is building will “hit the ground running”.
They will engage with the EU in the “friendliest possible way”. And he says he thinks they will respond in a symmetric way.
Johnson says he knows the Labour London left.
He knows their obsessions.
Jeremy Corbyn is far to the left of Ken Livingstone (who Johnson beat twice in London mayoral elections), Johnson says.
He says Corbyn is a fundamental threat to our values and our way of life.
Johnson claims he has campaigned in almost every seat in the country.
He will do anything he can to stop the government of the UK passing into the hands of Labour, who have disdain for wealth creation and who would compromise the government’s ability to fund the NHS.
He says he last defeated this sort of leftwinger when the Tories were 17-points behind in London.
This is the opening salvo in a battle to protect the country, he says.
Johnson says he has seen the UK’s partners want it to recover its self-belief.
He says he does not underestimate the challenges lying ahead.
But he has real experience managing short-term difficulties on the road to long-term success.
He took London through riots and strikes, and he oversaw the Olympics.
He shrank the opportunity gap.
And he wants to do for the whole country what he did for London.
In everything he does he will seek to strengthen the union – this “awesome foursome” that makes the UK a “softpower superpower”, Johnson says.
Johnson says he cut crime. That helped the poorest families, because they suffer disproportionately from crime, he says.
And he was able to do this while championing wealth creators. At one point he was the only person in the country speaking up for the financial sector, he says.
He says he wants a “sizzling synergy” that can promote growth.
He says he wants no town, no community, and no person left behind.