Boris Johnson point-by-point: People must stop treating Brexit like a 'plague of boils'
The Foreign Secretary used his 29-minute keynote conference speech to attack Brexit "pessimists" who "make Eeyore look positively exuberant".
His 29-minute speech, which ranged far from his foreign policy brief and touched on the economy, housebuilding and education, added to mounting speculation about his leadership ambitions.
His speech was given a standing ovation by Tory activists, who had packed the conference hall to see him speak.
Mr Johnson reserved his strongest criticism for Jeremy Corbyn, describing the Labour leader to a "zombie" and comparing John McDonnell to "Pol Pot".
He said that an entire generation is suffering from "amnesia" about the realities of socialism in the 1970s and must now fight again for a free-market economy.
In an attempt to quell speculation he hailed the Prime Minister for her "steadfast" leadership.
The Foreign Secretary said that the UK must stop treating Brexit as if it is "an inexplicable aberration by 17.4 million people.
"It is time to be bold, and to seize the opportunities," he said. "And there is no country better placed than Britain."
He reserved some of his strongest criticism for the Financial Times. He said: "Every day a distinguished pink newspaper manages to make Eeyore look positively exuberant and across the world the impression is being given that this country is not up to it.
"That we are going to bottle out of Brexit and end up in some dingy ante-room of the EU, pathetically waiting for the scraps but no longer in control of the menu."
The Foreign Secretary said that no country is better placed than Britain to "seize the opportunities" presented by Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn 'is Caracas'
The Foreign Secretary condemned Jeremy Corbyn as a "Nato bashing, Trident scrapping, would-be abolisher of the British army.
He said that Mr Corbyn's "first instinct" in the wake of any international disaster is to try to blame British Foreign Policy.
"He says he still admires Bolivarian revolutionary socialism, Mr Johnson said. "I say he’s Caracas."
He added: "It is a disgrace – and I can tell you there are many Labour MPs who feel appalled that their party is still led by this man."
He accused Mr Corbyn of "talking this country down" with his "ludicrous and vacillating" policy on Brexit.
"In the customs union one week, out the next, in the single market, out the next," he said. "In out, in out. Faster than one of those members of the shadow cabinet who gets sacked before she knows she has even been appointed.
"A kind of manifestation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. It would be disastrous."