Brexit: Boris blasts back
Don’t give in to Remainers, he warns, in direct challenge to May’s authority
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