Boris Johnson accused of "back-seat driving" Brexit by home secretary Amber Rudd

Lynsey Barber
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Boris Johnson Delivers Stump Speech For The Vote Leave Referendum Campaign
Boris Johnson's Brexit vision has not been welcomed (Source: Getty)

Boris Johnson has been accused of "back-seat driving" Brexit by a top minister after penning a lengthy essay on his vision for the UK after leaving Europe that has been widely seen as jockeying for leadership.

Home secretary Amber Rudd said she "did not have time" to read the piece, published in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, which sparked talk of Johnson's renewed ambition to lead the Conservative party, weakened by a major failure to win a majority in the General Election.

"I don’t want him managing the Brexit process," said Rudd, referring to her previous comments that he is the life of the party but not "the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening".

Read more: The UK is seeking a post-Brexit security treaty with the EU to fight terror

"What we’ve got is Theresa May managing that process. She’s driving the car off, to continue the allegory, and I’m going to make sure that as far as I’m concerned and the rest of the Cabinet is concerned, we help her do that."

And Damian Green echoed that support, saying it was "very clear the driver of the car is the Prime Minister" and that it was the cabinet's job to "get behind the proposals and the Prime Minister".

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable branded the Conservative party as "in a state of complete civil war" after the infighting within May's cabinet resurfaced and said there was "a complete breakdown of discipline".

Rudd said she had not read the piece, in which Johnson reiterated claims that leaving Europe will save £350m a week that could be spent on the NHS, due to the Parsons Green Tube terrorist attack.

"I had rather a lot to do on Friday. There was, you know, a bomb that nearly went off, as we know, in Parson’s Green. Yesterday I chaired COBR, I went to see the police, I went to see the operation. No, I didn’t have time to read that piece," she said.

She also added that Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson "had a point" in her criticism of Johnson's timing in publishing the 4,000 word article..

Read more: Boris Johnson sticks by £350m NHS claim and sets out vision for Brexit

He adds "enthusiasm, energy and sometimes entertainment" she said of the foreign secretary when asked if life would be made easier if he wasn't keen on writing by Andrew Marr on the BBC politics show.

"He's an important part of the cabinet... I enjoy working with Boris. I enjoy working with the rest of them too," she added.

"I'm focused on making sure I deliver what I need to, for the government, for the country, which is additional security," said Rudd when asked of her own leadership ambitions. "I haven't got time for the rest of it," she added.

The UK Statistics Authority today rapped Johnson for retelling the £350m claim first plastered across a bright red bus by Leave campaigners during last year's referendum. Sir David Norgrove said it was a "clear misuse of statistics" in a letter to the Johnson.

"I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the figure of £350m per week in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union," he said.

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