- Boris Johnson launched a fresh attack on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, saying that she “wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution” and handed the detonator to the EU.
- He added that the UK had handed EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier a “jemmy with which Brussels can choose – at any time – to crack apart the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
- His comments appeared in the Mail on Sunday.
- The former foreign secretary’s choice of language drew ire from fellow Conservative MPs, including ex-army officer Tom Tugendhat.
- Johnson’s piece comes two days after he and his wife announced their divorce, which fuelled speculation about his leadership ambitions.
Boris Johnson launched a fresh attack on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, saying that she “wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution” and handing the detonator to the EU.
The former foreign secretary’s comments, which were published in the Mail on Sunday, specifically criticised May’s so-called Chequers proposal, which was agreed earlier this year.
The Chequers plan, which would entail Britain staying in a single market for goods with the EU, has so far been criticised by many Leave-supporting Conservative MPs, the Labour party, EU negotiators, and the electorate.
Johnson quit the cabinet in July in opposition to the Chequers plan, saying in his resignation letter that Britain was “truly headed for the status of colony” and that the “dream” of Brexit “is dying.”
“At every stage in the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants. We have agreed to the EU’s timetable; we have agreed to hand over £39 billion, for nothing in return.
“Now under the Chequers proposal, we are set to agree to accept their rules – forever – with no say on the making of those rules.
“It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500 lb gorilla. And the reason is simple: Northern Ireland, and the insanity of the so-called ‘backstop.'”
The Brexit “backstop” is May’s promise to the EU that, in the event that Britain leaves the EU next March without a deal,Northern Ireland would effectively remain part of the single market.
“We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.
“We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose – at any time – to crack apart the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Johnson’s choice of language drew the ire of fellow Conservative MPs, who said his likening May to a suicide bomber “isn’t funny” and “marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics.”
Tom Tugendhat, an ex-army officer, tweeted: “A suicide bomber murdered many in the courtyard of my office in Helmand. The carnage was disgusting, limbs and flesh hanging from trees and bushes. Brave men who stopped him killing me and others died in horrific pain.
“Some need to grow up. Comparing the PM to that isn’t funny.”
Sir Alan Duncan also said: “For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much. This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics.
“I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid also suggested that Johnson should have used “measured language.”
He told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday: “I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences. It’s a reminder for all of us in public policy, whichever party we represent, to use measured language because I think that’s what the public want to see.”
Johnson’s piece was his first public comment since he and his wife, Marina Wheeler QC, confirmed their separation and impending divorce after 25 years of marriage.
The announcement came after newspaper allegations that Johnson had a string of extra-marital affairs, and fuels speculation about his leadership ambitions.
Last week British newspapers reported that Johnson and Sir Lynton Crosby, the man who ran Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign, were plotting to oust the May by destroying her Chequers plan.
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