Op­er­a­tion Stop Boris Even be­fore MPs vote, Tories are plot­ting over new lead­er­ship

Daily Mail - - Countdown To Brexit D-day - By Jack Doyle Ex­ec­u­tive Political Ed­i­tor

‘Too fraught with risk’

BORIS John­son made a thin­ly­dis­guised pitch for the Tory lead­er­ship yes­ter­day – as Re­main­ers plot­ted to pre­vent him re­plac­ing Theresa May.

Mr John­son launched an­other as­sault on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal in an in­ter­view with a web­site pop­u­lar with Tory ac­tivists, whose votes would de­cide any lead­er­ship con­test.

The for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary said Mrs May’s plan was full of ‘ex­quis­ite hu­mil­i­a­tions’ and sug­gested it was equiv­a­lent to the terms that might be im­posed on a na­tion that had suf­fered a mil­i­tary de­feat.

It came as Re­mainer Tories worked on a project to ‘ stop Boris’, amid re­ports up to 20 MPs could quit the party if Mrs May is ousted next week and re­placed by Mr John­son.

For­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral do­minic Grieve, for­mer busi­ness minister Anna Soubry and back­bench MPs Heidi Al­lan and Sarah Wol­las­ton were among the names floated yes­ter­day.

The Home Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid and An­drea Lead­som sparked spec­u­la­tion about a ‘joint ticket’ by invit­ing MPs to a Christ­mas drinks party hosted by them both. Ob­servers sug­gested that the al­liance would help Mr Javid – who backed Re­main – win sup­port among pro-Brexit Tories.

Aides in­sisted the only rea­son for the event is that the MPs have ad­join­ing of­fices.

There were also claims lead­er­ship can­di­dates were al­ready of­fer­ing Cabi­net jobs in re­turn for sup­port. The BBC re­ported one se­nior Tory sug­gest­ing he had been of­fered a se­nior post by two dif­fer­ent con­tenders.

There were also signs last night that Labour is seek­ing to join forces with rebel Tories and the dUP to force Mrs May’s res­ig­na­tion in a no-con­fi­dence vote if her Brexit plan is heav­ily de­feated.

In an in­ter­view with the Con­ser­va­tiveHome web­site yes­ter­day, Mr John­son sug­gested Mrs May had ‘col­lab­o­rated’ with the eU by agree­ing to the cus­toms back­stop. ‘It’s un­be­liev­able. It’s a kind of S&M ap­proach to gov­ern­ment. What per­ver­sion is it where you want to be locked up in chains,’ he de­clared.

It also emerged that Mr John­son had com­pared his predica­ment over Brexit to that of Win­ston Churchill in the Sec­ond World War, say­ing the wartime prime minister gam­bled by con­fronting Adolf Hitler in the face of op­po­si­tion from ap­peasers.

In com­ments which risked ac­cu­sa­tions he was com­par­ing the eU to Nazi Ger­many, he told an au­di­ence of fi­nan­cial firms in Am­s­ter­dam on Tues­day the re­sult was to ‘res­cue this con­ti­nent ... from a pretty odi­ous tyranny.

‘So you can’t say he was wrong. In fact he was tri­umphantly right. A com­pul­sive gam­bler was proved tri­umphantly right.

‘And I think the only les­son I draw from that is that some­times you do need to do the dif­fi­cult thing and you do need to take a po­si­tion that ev­ery­one says is too fraught with risk.

‘And the les­son I draw from that is the UK to­day has ev­ery rea­son to be con­fi­dent about our fu­ture and what we can achieve.’

Charm of­fen­sive: Mr John­son

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