Top Tories pick their sides in the latest Boris brouhaha

Written by David Singleton on 18 September 2017 in Diary
Diary

Johnson is thought to have annoyed fellow his Brexiteer David Davis.

The most withering critique of Boris Johnson’s recent posturing was signed off by the prime minister and delivered by the home secretary.

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Amber Rudd said that she did not want Johnson "managing the Brexit process" and agreed that his actions amounted to "backseat driving".

But most brutally of all, she suggested that the foreign secretary was not a remotely serious figure. Rather, he merely brought "enthusiasm, energy and, sometimes, entertainment" to the cabinet.

Suspicions that Rudd was doing Theresa May’s dirty work were soon confirmed when Downing Street aides pointed to them as representative of government thinking.

 

 

 

Against Boris

Other Tories speaking out against Johnson include George Freeman, who chairs the Conservative party’s policy forum and the prime minister’s policy board.

Appearing on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, Freeman slapped down Johnson for repeating his controversial claim that Brexit would lead to the UK government being able to spend an extra £350m a week, with most of the cash going to the NHS.

He said: "Personally I think the £350 million figure is just far too early to be able to make wild promises about what exactly is going to be coming out of the Brexit negotiations ... It’s not a figure I would have repeated, and he’s not the health secretary and it needs to be negotiated."

Boris has also been taken to task on Twitter by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader and Tobias Ellwood, who was a minister in the Foreign Office under Johnson until June.

Davidson said that Johnson’s timing was terrible: "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."

And Ellwood – who was hailed as a hero after this year’s Westminster attack -went down the same road: "We are not witnessing our finest hour-at a testing time when poise, purpose and unity are called for."

Johnson’s fellow Brexiteers have generally been less critical, but Brexit secretary (and potential Tory leadership rival) David Davis has privately indicated that he is not impressed.

"DD’s view is that it was wrong for Boris to make the £350 million claim then and he is wrong to bring it up now," a well-placed source told the Mail on Sunday.

 

For Boris

Michael Gove is widely believed to have stabbed Johnson in the back during last year’s Tory leadership contest. But now, perhaps in a belated bid to make it up to his fellow leader of the Vote Leave campaign, Gove has jumped to Johnson’s defence.

"In the debate on EU contributions it's important people look at what Boris actually wrote in his Telegraph article - not headlines," he tweeted.

The environment secretary then suggested that Johnson’s remain-voting critics should move on, saying the "debate should be forward looking on how to make most of life outside EU - not refighting referendum".

Johnson has also been defended by the ardent Brexiteers John Redwood and Jacob Rees Mogg.

On the Today, programme, Redwood said it was fine to use the £350m per week figure: "That is the official figure. The statistical disagreement is not over whether that is the gross figure or not. As I understand it, the statistical intervention is that he should have used a net figure rather than the gross figure."

In the Daily Telegraph, Rees Mogg did not defend the £350m per week figure but argued: "The positivity of Boris Johnson uses the settling of our account with the EU to boost public services. He wants to deliver on the promise to ensure better funding of the NHS by using the money we will save by leaving the EU, £10bn, or nearly £200m a week."

Less usefully for Johnson, he has also been given the thumbs up by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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