Was he taking revenge for Election ‘snub’?
THE refusal by Boris Johnson to let Theresa May see his devastating ‘Brexit manifesto’ could have been revenge for a similar snub by her in the Election, it was claimed last night.
Mrs May’s aides banned him from seeing the Tories’ Election manifesto in advance because they were convinced he would leak it, according to a new book by political journalists Tim Ross and Tom McTague.
They say the Foreign Secretary was annoyed to be ‘locked out of the manifesto-writing process’ and that his repeated demands to see it were rejected because he was not deemed ‘trustworthy’.
The book, being serialised in the MoS, quotes a May aide saying: ‘No doubt Boris wanted to leak it so he wasn’t going to see it.’ Last night, one Tory MP privately suggested Mr Boris’s surprise Brexit intervention could be ‘Boris getting his own back on Theresa’ for the manifesto snub.
The rebuff is one of a series of humiliations inflicted on Mr Johnson by Mrs May.
Two years ago as Home Secretary, she embarrassed Mr Johnson by thwarting the then London mayor’s bid to use German-made water cannon in the capital – even though he had already bought them.
At the launch of her Tory leadership campaign in 2016, she mocked him for spending £200,000 on the second-hand cannons – that were never used – claiming it proved he was not fit to take charge of Brexit talks. ‘The last time he did a deal with the Germans, he came back with three nearly-new water cannon,’ she said.
Her most spectacular public put-down came at the Spectator magazine annual awards dinner last year.
Seizing on a remark by Mr Johnson who had light-heartedly compared himself to Michael Heseltine’s Alsatian dog, and with the Foreign Secretary in the audience, the Prime Minister quipped: ‘Boris, the dog was put down… when its master decided it wasn’t needed any more.’
In her first speech to the Tory conference as leader last year, she jokingly questioned the Foreign Secretary’s ability to stick to an agreed Government line, asking: ‘Can Boris Johnson stay on message for a full four days?’
In a further humiliation, there were reports that, far from Mr Johnson pulling out of a trip to Moscow at the last minute to attend a summit on Syria in April this year, it was actually Mrs May who had stepped in and ordered the Foreign Secretary not to go.
Last night, allies of Mr Johnson denied that his Brexit article amounted to an attempt to take revenge on the Prime Minister over the Election manifesto snub.
They also dismissed the idea that he was considered untrustworthy by Mrs May’s advisers.
One Johnson ally confirmed that the Foreign Secretary had made repeated requests to see the Election manifesto but insisted that almost every other Cabinet Minister had done so as well – and had also been turned down.
PUT-DOWNS: Theresa May has repeatedly targeted Boris Johnson