Boris Johnson won't take centre stage in Tory campaign

Beth Rigby, Senior Political Correspondent

Boris Johnson was undoubtedly the star of the Vote Leave campaign, but the Foreign Secretary looks set to take a more minor role in Theresa May's election push.

Three Cabinet sources told Sky News Mr Johnson was not on the core team of campaign figureheads, suggesting that the gaffe-prone Foreign Secretary will be used more sparingly on the national airwaves as Team May looks to tightly control the message and avoid any slip-ups.

"He'll be doing a lot of foreign trips in the next few weeks," joked one colleague.

Senior party sources told Sky News the faces of the campaign are likely to include Mrs May's close ally, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, as well as Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.

Priti Patel, International Development Secretary and darling of the right, is also expected to be deployed alongside Conservative chairman Patrick McLoughlin.

However, one Tory source also stressed that the Foreign Secretary will be part of the campaign - if not in a frontline role - as the party gets its message out.

Sources pointed out that Mr Johnson would be giving a speech later in the week and was also set to do a round of broadcast interviews.

"The air war every day will be a clear choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn," one source said.

"And on the airwaves we'll have Conservative ministers, backbenchers and leaders around the country in all parts of the country."

David Cameron faced a similar dilemma in the 2015 election campaign.

Mr Johnson was - in the former prime minister's own words - a "star player" but he did not want a rival in too prominent a role.

In the end, Mr Johnson was deployed in the ground war, trying to either hold or win marginal seats rather than being a big figure in the national campaign.

"He mobilised the troops," says one person who worked on the 2015 campaign.

"He was very active as he was the Heineken politician who out-polled members of the cabinet, including Theresa May."

The Conservatives are, like in 2015, building the campaign around a couple of simple messages.

The first line of attack is to pit Theresa May as a "stable and strong" leader, while painting the Labour leader as unfit for office.

The second - designed to turn out the Conservative vote - is to warn that a failure to support Mrs May could result in a "coalition of chaos" of Labour, SNP and the Lib Dems with Mr Corbyn at the helm.

Earlier, Mrs May discussed the election strategy with her Cabinet, as the party looks to increase its majority by taking seats from Labour in their heartlands of Wales and the Midlands.

It also hopes to take territory from the SNP in Scotland.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister was out campaigning in Wales, as a YouGov poll suggested the Conservatives could be set to gain the majority of votes in the country for the first time since 1859.

The poll put Tory support in Wales at 40%, against 30% for Labour.

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