Tory civil war deepens as Boris Johnson lays into ‘deranged’ Chequers plan
Boris Johnson poured salt on the wounds of Tory Party divisions this morning, branding Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint as “entirely preposterous” and “deranged”.
In comments that are likely to fuel further speculation about his leadership ambitions, Johnson widened the rift between himself and the Prime Minister by saying: “Unlike the Prime Minister, I campaigned for Brexit”.
Part of Downing Street’s Chequers plan is to have customs officials collect different tariffs on products depending on whether their destination is the EU or the UK, which Johnson said would potentially cause “economic and political damage to the UK…It surrenders control.”
He added: “The idea that we could ask customs officers in Dubrovnik and Santander to charge British-only tariffs is deranged, and nobody thinks it can work.”
Read more: May unable to guarantee no hard Irish border in case of 'no deal' Brexit
The remarks, which were Johnson’s first to a newspaper since resigning as foreign secretary in July, come as May gears up to unveil her own agenda at Conservative party conference this week in a bid to shore up her position after months of political infighting.
Among May’s new proposals are a levy to clamp down on foreigners buying homes and plans for a national festival in 2022.
Posed with Johnson’s comments on the BBC earlier today, May insisted she was acting in “the national interest”.
She said: “I believe that the plan that we have put forward is a plan that is in the national interest…This is a plan which ensures we deliver on the vote of the British people.
Read more: War of words: Former Brexit minister sticks knife into the CBI
The leading Brexiteer also drew fierce criticism from party colleagues after calling for the construction of a 25-mile bridge to Ireland to send a message that ministers would still “believe in Britain”.
Fellow Eurosceptic David Davis said the idea made for 'good headlines but not good policies', while Sajid Javid joked on Twitter: “Flight from Birmingham to Belfast delayed. Wish there was a bridge. Wait…”
Flight from Birmingham to Belfast delayed. Wish there was a bridge. Wait….
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) September 30, 2018
One of the more fiery responses came from former CBI general secretary Digby Jones, who was met with a standing ovation from party members after saying that Johnson's recent comments about business leaders were deeply offensive.
Theresa May also applauded the peer's remarks, which included calling the former foreign secretary an "irrelevance."
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, the former director of the Confederation of British Industry, Lord Digby Jones, said that Johnson's recent comments about business leaders were deeply offensive.