Brexit: Boris blasts back

Don’t give in to Re­main­ers, he warns, in di­rect chal­lenge to May’s au­thor­ity

Daily Mail - - News - By Ja­son Groves Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

Boris John­son threw down the gaunt­let to theresa May over Brexit last night, as he warned her against giv­ing in to re­main­ers in the Cab­i­net.

in an in­ter­ven­tion that will reignite spec­u­la­tion about his lead­er­ship am­bi­tions, the For­eign sec­re­tary pub­lished a 4,000word es­say set­ting out his per­sonal man­i­festo for Brexit.

the move comes days be­fore Mrs May is due to make a piv­otal speech on the is­sue and will be seen as an at­tempt to box her in.

Mr John­son, who is angry at claims he lied dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, says the UK will claw back con­trol of £350mil­lion a week af­ter leav­ing the EU, which could be spent on the NHs.

And he flatly re­jects calls for Bri­tain to pay bil­lions for ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket dur­ing any tran­si­tion pe­riod af­ter Brexit – an idea be­ing con­sid­ered by Mrs May for in­clu­sion in her speech next week.

some min­is­ters, in­clud­ing the Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond, be­lieve the pay­ments could break the dead­lock in the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions and kick­start talks on a new trade deal.

But Mr John­son writes: ‘We would not ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to their mar­kets any more than they would ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to our.’

He says on­go­ing mem­ber­ship of the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union would make a ‘ com­plete mock­ery’ of the ref­er­en­dum.

Down­ing street had banned Mr John­son from mak­ing a speech on Brexit un­til af­ter Mrs May had de­liv­ered hers. His es­say, in the Daily tele­graph, was not cleared with No 10 and was sent to the PM’s of­fice only shortly be­fore it was pub­lished.

it comes amid mount­ing con­cern in Down­ing street that Mr John­son could re­sign if Mrs May tries to go soft on Brexit. the For­eign sec­re­tary is said to be frus­trated at con­tin­ued at­tempts to side­line him.

Mr John­son is also said to have been an­gered by brief­ings this month sug­gest­ing he would be de­moted in the next Cab­i­net reshuf­fle.

in July he was forced to deny ru­mours sweep­ing West­min­ster that he was on the verge of quit­ting.

One tory source said this week that he was ‘so low’ he had been put on ‘res­ig­na­tion watch’ by No 10. such a de­par­ture would desta­bilise Mrs May’s frag­ile gov­ern­ment and set off a chain of events that could force her from of­fice.

One friend in­sisted Mr John­son was not con­sid­er­ing quit­ting, but hinted at ten­sions with No 10. ‘i think he is clear that if he’s pushed he will push back on pol­icy and on [Cab­i­net] jobs. But it is all about stay­ing in gov­ern­ment, not walk­ing away,’ the friend said. Mr John­son uses his ar­ti­cle to set out an up­beat vi­sion for a ‘glo­ri­ous’ post-Brexit fu­ture as a low-tax, low reg­u­la­tion econ­omy freed from EU shack­les.

He in­sists Bri­tain can be ‘the great­est coun­try on Earth’ and rounds on so-called re­moan­ers ‘who think we are go­ing to bot­tle it’. He also ac­cuses labour of ‘chick­en­ing out’ af­ter vot­ing against the EU With­drawal Bill and back­ing sin­gle mar­ket mem­ber­ship in the short term.

Mr John­son adds: ‘Once we have set­tled our ac­counts, we will take back con­trol of roughly £350m per week. it would be a fine thing … if a lot of that money went on the NHs, pro­vided we use that cash in­jec­tion to mod­ernise and make the most of new tech­nol­ogy.’

He says op­po­nents such as ‘ the gov­ern­ment, the BBC … the CBi’ tried to pre­vent Brexit and are ‘woe­fully un­der­es­ti­mat­ing this coun­try’.

A Down­ing street source said: ‘Boris’s views on Brexit are well known. As you’ll see in the PM’s speech next week, the Gov­ern­ment is united in our de­ter­mi­na­tion to make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties for a suc­cess­ful fu­ture.’

‘If pushed, he will push back’

De­fi­ance: Boris John­son yes­ter­day

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