Boris reveals the real reason for his 4,000 word Brexit outburst
Take a bow, Fraser Nelson.
Boris Johnson has claimed he is "mystified" by the furore over his recent Brexit intervention - and suggested that the editor of The Spectator is to blame (or thank) for his controversial 4,000 word article.
The foreign secretary’s lengthy comment piece in The Telegraph was widely seen as an attempt by Johnson to send a warning shot to Theresa May and to strengthen his base among the hardcore Brexiters who could drive his leadership campaign.
But, in pattern that lobby journalists say is becoming increasingly familiar, Johnson has denied he was up to anything mischievous and insisted that he is shocked by the fall-out from the media storm that he single-handedly whipped up.
In an interview with The Guardian, he stated: "I am mystified by all this stuff. Not me, guv. I don’t know where it is coming from, honestly. It feels to me like an attempt to keep the great snore-athon story about my article running. I think that is what is going on."
Johnson also argued that he did not see his article in the context of a challenge to May’s authority. Instead, it was a reaction to those who said he had not articulated a distinctive foreign policy. Such as The Spectator editor Fraser Nelson.
The foreign secretary did not name fellow Telegraph scribe Nelson as the man who grabbed his attention with a piece titled: "There are three theories why Boris Johnson is lying low, and none is flattering." But he didn’t need to.
Johnson said: "It is perfectly true that I had thought ‘res ipsa loquitur’ [the matter speaks for itself], just get on and do the job, but I was conscious that people wanted me to contribute to the public debate.
"One after the other people wrote articles saying ‘where oh where, why cannot we hear from Johnson?’ I then obliged them.
"So I contributed a small article to the pages of the Telegraph, and now everyone who had previously accused me of saying too little are now saying I am saying rather too much."
PHOTO CREDIT: PETER NICHOLLS/WPA Rota/Press Association Images