Boris Johnson attacks Theresa May over Brexit 'fog of self-doubt'

Lester Mason
July 19, 2018

The former foreign secretary accused the Prime Minister of "dithering" as he gave his resignation speech to MPs in the Commons on Wednesday.

While praising the PM's "courage and resilience", he said her Chequers plan would see the United Kingdom in "miserable limbo".

Johnson, figurehead of the Brexit campaign in the 2016 referendum, urged May to change her Brexit strategy in a scathing assessment of the government's handling of the negotiations.

Addressing MPs, Mr Johnson said the "bright certainties" that followed the 2016 Brexit vote had dissipated and the United Kingdom risked ending up in "economic vassalage" if it agreed to follow European Union regulations on trade, the environment and social affairs.

Mr Johnson, who tweeted out his statement, said that the United Kingdom should aim for the vision of "a strong independent, self-governing Britain" set out at Lancaster House, not the "miserable, permanent limbo" of the White Paper presented at Chequers, which has angered so many Brexiteers.

Boris Johnson speaking in the Commons on Wednesday. For his allies, that was the point.

He said that ministers had "dithered" for 18 months in negotiations with the European Union, and accused May of allowing the Northern Irish border issue to become too central to negotiations.

For someone who less than a fortnight ago signed up to the government's Chequers deal, even toasting the PM over dinner, that's quite some feat.

The government, he claimed, had simply not tried to make the case for a loose arrangement with the European Union based on a wide-ranging free trade deal.

"Worst of all we allowed the question of the Northern Ireland become so politically charged as to dominate the debate".

"Which we should all acknowledge because if we don't we make the fatal mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the public. saying one thing to the European Union and another to the electorate".

Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary last week in protest against Theresa May's Brexit plans, throwing the Cabinet into further chaos and raising the prospect of a leadership challenge against the prime minister.

In the 12-minute statement, he added: "It is not too late to save Brexit".

"We never actually turned that vision into a negotiating position in Brussels and we never made it into a negotiating offer", he said.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said the proposals were put forward after discussions with other parties but added: "We are considering all of the representations which have been received".

May also sought to rally support in later meetings with Conservative Party backbenchers known as the 1922 Committee and with the Parliamentary Liaison Committee that includes the leaders of all the House of Commons select committees.

The poll also found an increase in public uncertainty in the past few days on the Brexit issue.

In the past 48 hours, the government has narrowly won a series of votes on trade and customs arrangements despite substantial rebellions by pro-European Tories.

Would-be rebels were reportedly warned on Tuesday that opposing the government in a vote on a customs union would lead to a vote of confidence and potentially a general election.

Ms Swinson posted on Twitter: "This is calculated, deliberate breaking of trust by government whips to win at all costs".

Conservative MP Philip Davies has called for a no confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May as people have "lost trust" in her ability to "deliver the referendum result".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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