Call for May to fire Boris over Brexit challenge
BRITAIN: Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to sack Boris Johnson after he challenged her authority by publishing a 4000 word treatise setting out his demands from the Brexit negotiations.
The Foreign Secretary has infuriated some of his Cabinet colleagues, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, with his wide ranging demands in the article for The Daily Telegraph.
Downing Street was only given a few hours notice of publication of the article, which was interpreted by MPs and Westminster watchers as a bid to reignite his leadership campaign.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that aides to May phoned Johnson yesterday to seek reassurances that his intervention days ahead of her key speech on Britain’s future after the EU in Florence was not a leadership bid.
Johnson’s friends vehemently denied that the article was a leadership bid or was intended to be critical of May.
Johnson - who republished his article on his Facebook page yesterday - wrote on Twitter: ‘‘Looking forward to PM’s Florence speech. All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit.’’
But critics noted Johnson’s article did not offer any praise to David Davis and Liam Fox, the two Cabinet ministers who May has trusted with delivering Brexit. The article was also lukewarm about Hammond, noting coolly that the Treasury ‘‘has not so far sought to punish the British people with an emergency budget’’.
Hammond was said by friends to be prepared ‘‘to sit tight’’ but was ‘‘very angry’’ about the article.
Another senior minister who backed Remain in the EU referendum said May could sack Johnson and give him the NHS to run so he can spend the £350 million himself.
He said: ‘‘If he can’t settle into his job as Foreign Secretary then he needs to go and do something else.
‘‘If he is interested in health he could volunteer to be the Secretary of State for Health. Jeremy Hunt has done a long stint of five years - perhaps Boris would like to go and run the health service if he has all these ideas of funding it?
‘‘There is a strong worry that he is lining himself up to get sacked - and that is the last thing we need. Why doesn’t he just concentrate on the serious stuff and stop bringing back this nonsense about the £350 million.
‘‘It just p ..... us off because we don’t want to be reminded about that nonsense. It is all about tone and timing. Resurrecting the £350 million? It is not government policy. No one is saying that, leave or remain, in the Government.
‘‘I thought we’d settled down and grown up and then we get this? The silly season is over. It is a bizarre and ill-judged intervention.’’
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives who is close to May, wrote on Twitter: ‘‘On the day of a terror attack where Britons were maimed, just hours after the threat level is raised, our only thoughts should be on service.’’
A former Conservative minister said that Johnson was now ‘‘sailing within an inch of being thrown out of the Government’’.
The ex-minister said: ‘‘He has lit a fuse under the whole bloody thing. He is effectively saying that she is not handling Brexit properly and that he is being kept on a leash, and he now needs to be let off the leash.
‘‘One should not discount completely that Boris thinks the party conference could undermine the prime minister. She should be safe for two years but that could change [at the Conservative party conference] in Manchester if there is a concerted effort to get rid of her.
‘‘She is basically serving at the pleasure of Conservative MPs who could move tomorrow to get rid of her. She is in an incredibly weak position.’’
- Telegraph Group