Tories turn on Boris after power play
Davidson attacks timing of Brexit manifesto
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.”