- Chancellor Philip Hammond tells Boris Johnson that “everyone is sackable” as Conservative Party conference kicks off in Manchester.
- The foreign secretary made his latest Brexit intervention on Saturday, publishing his “red lines” for any withdrawal deal.
- Former Tory minister Nicky Morgan says “the parliamentary party has had enough” of Johnson.
LONDON — Boris Johnson has received a backlash from Conservative colleagues after his latest Brexit intervention, with Chancellor Philip Hammond saying that “everyone is sackable.”
The foreign secretary has been criticised following the announcement of his “red lines” for the UK’s withdrawal deal with the European Union on Saturday, which included a demand that a transition period should not last “a second more” than two years.
Hammond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning: “I always operate on the principle that everyone is sackable,” after being questioned about whether Johnson should be fired.
He also said on Sky News: “The more we can show unity, the stronger our negotiating position with the European Union would be.”
Johnson’s intervention dominated the first day of the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester, which Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to use to stabilise her premiership after a turbulent summer.
The foreign secretary has again revealed the disunity in the cabinet over how Brexit should progress, with his “red lines” coming weeks after he published a 4,000-word article about his vision for a “glorious” Brexit the week before May’s keynote speech on Brexit in Florence.
His support for transition being as short as possible puts him at odds with both May and Hammond, who are keen to provide enough time for British business to adjust. May said in her Florence speech that it would be “around” two years.
Johnson has played down the significance of his latest intervention, telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “I think actually if you studied what I said, it was basically government policy. I think it’s extraordinary that so much fuss has been made about repeating government policy, but there you go.”
However, former education secretary Nicky Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday that Johnson “has to go” unless he shows more loyalty to the prime minister.
“If he can’t stop setting down arbitrary red lines, then yes he has to go… the parliamentary party has had enough and actually it is now time for everybody to get back on track.”
Business has also criticised Johnson over his apparent disloyalty with the British Chamber of Commerce’s director general Adam Marshall accusing him of destabilising the government.
Marshall said there was growing concern over “division and disorganisation at the heart of the party of government” and he had made it “very clear that they [businesses] expect competence and coherence from ministers as we move into a critical period for the economy.”
Last week Johnson was boosted by a new poll that showed he was the favourite amongst Conservative members to become the party’s next leader.
Backbench Conservative MP Graham Brady, who is also chairman of the influential 1922 committee, said on Westminster Hour: “I think we have a very simple straightforward task at this conference, and it’s to demonstrate that we are a grown-up party which cares more about the future of our country than about the particular career prospects of any individual.”
May insisted on Sunday that the cabinet were behind her on Brexit, saying she had a “cabinet united in the mission of this government.”
The prime minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “What I have is a cabinet united in the mission of this government and that is what you will see this week and agreed on the approach we take in Florence. Boris is absolutely behind the Florence speech. You’ve seen what he is saying.”
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