Boris John­son reignites lead­er­ship spec­u­la­tion with Brexit plans

He was ex­pected to chal­lenge May af­ter she gam­bled away her par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity in June elec­tion.

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

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.

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