Boris Johnson reignites leadership speculation with Brexit plans
He was expected to challenge May after she gambled away her parliamentary majority in June election.
LONDON:British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson set out his plans for a “glorious” Brexit on Saturday that angered colleagues and reignited speculation he would challenge Prime Minister Theresa May for the leadership of the Conservative party.
With May due to set out her vision for Brexit in a speech in the Italian city of Florence on Friday, Johnson published a 4,300-word newspaper article that roamed well beyond his ministerial brief and, in some cases, went beyond the approach set out by the government.
Britain, he said, would not pay to access European markets in the future. Once out of the European Union, the country should borrow to invest in infrastructure, reform the tax code and set immigration levels as it sees fit.A prominent Brexit campaigner in last year’s referendum, Johnson also repeated the controversial claim that the government would be 350 million pounds better off per week once outside the EU.
“My friends, I must report that there are at least some people who are woefully underestimating this coun- try,“Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph. ”They think Brexit isn’t going to happen.
”I am here to tell you that this country will succeed in our new national enterprise, and will succeed mightily.” “We have a glorious future.” With some colleagues angered by the timing - Johnson’s article was published a day after a bomb injured 30 people on a train - he later added on Twitter: “Looking forward to PM’s Florence Speech. All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit”.
A favorite with grassroots members of the Conserva- tive Party, Johnson had been expected to challenge for the leadership after May gambled away her parliamentary majority in a June election she did not need to call. Instead, he publicly pledged his loyalty. But the Times newspaper reported earlier this week that Johnson believed he had since been sidelined as May prepares to compromise over a divorce bill with the EU to ease the negotiations.
Saturday’s article also included Johnson’s belief that Britain needed to leave the EU because “so many young people with the 12 stars lip- sticked on their face” were beginning to have split allegiances between Europe and their own country.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday’s comments also laid bare the conflicts within May’s government. But a source within Downing Street said Johnson’s views were well known.
Colleagues criticised the timing of the article, which came around two hours after May put Britain on the highest threat level of critical, meaning an attack may be imminent.