Tories turn on Boris af­ter power play

David­son at­tacks tim­ing of Brexit man­i­festo

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - POLITICS - By Kieran An­drews kian­drews@sun­day­post.com

BORIS JOHN­SON en­dured a back­lash from his own col­leagues yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing ac­cused of launch­ing a Tory lead­er­ship bid.

The For­eign Sec­re­tary came un­der fire over a 4000-word newspaper ar­ti­cle about the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of Brexit.

The man­i­festo – sug­gest­ing Brexit could make Bri­tain the most suc­cess­ful coun­try in the world – was seen in White­hall as a power play to un­der­mine Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ahead of the Con­ser­va­tive party con­fer­ence.

Se­nior Tories were fu­ri­ous at both the tim­ing of in­ter­ven­tion in the af­ter­math of Friday’s Lon­don Un­der­ground bomb­ing and the sus­pected mo­ti­va­tion.

Shortly af­ter the ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on­line, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive leader Ruth David­son tweeted: “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 source close to Ms David­son said: “We want to see a united and clear vi­sion from the party.”

It is well known that the duo’s re­la­tion­ship is strained, to the ex­tent that Ms David­son was con­sid­er­ing split­ting the Scot­tish Tories from the UK party when the pos­si­bil­ity loomed last year of Mr John­son be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter.

Mean­while, Tory MPs were scathing in their crit­i­cism of the For­eign Sec­re­tary.

One said: “Boris was clearly try­ing to demon­strate he still has some­thing to of­fer. Judge­ment is clearly not one of those things.”

In the ar­ti­cle, Mr John­son wrote: “We would not ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to their mar­kets any more than they would ex­pect to pay for ac­cess to ours.”

The for­mer Lon­don Mayor also re­vived the widely- crit­i­cised claim that Brexit could boost NHS cof­fers by £ 350m a week as he laid out his own path for a “glo­ri­ous” fu­ture out­side the EU.

Con­tin­ued mem­ber­ship of the European sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union would make a “com­plete mock­ery” of the ref­er­en­dum re­sult, he sug­gested.

Mr John­son also in­sisted that Brexit will al­low the UK to “be the great­est coun­try on earth” and “our destiny will be in our own hands”.

Later, af­ter the mo­tives and tim­ing of his in­ter ven­tion were crit­i­cised, Mr John­son in­sisted in a tweet linked to his ar­ti­cle that he was “look­ing for­ward to PM’s Florence speech”.

“All be­hind Theresa for a glo­ri­ous Brexit,” he added.

A spokesman for Jeremy Cor­byn said: “The For­eign Sec­re­tary even has the gall to dredge up the fan­tasy of £350 mil­lion a week ex­tra for the NHS. Mrs May must spell out now how this will be paid for or stand con­demned for once again try­ing to mislead the Bri­tish pub­lic.”

Mean­while, 120 firms have signed a let­ter to Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis and Brus­sels’ lead ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier warn­ing that jobs could be lost un­less progress is made on a tran­si­tional deal be­tween Bri­tain and the bloc.

The note from the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try, pub­lished to­day, said: “Our busi­nesses need to make de­ci­sions now about in­vest­ment and em­ploy­ment that will af­fect eco­nomic growth and jobs in the fu­ture.”

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