MPs are calling for Boris Johnson to be sacked after a tape of a candid speech in which he warned of a Brexit meltdown and called the Treasury ‘the heart of Remain’ was leaked.
The foreign secretary’s unguarded comments, which provide further evidence of the rifts running through the Conservative Party, were recorded during a private meeting in London.
Mr Johnson cautioned a meeting of campaign group Conservative Way Forward that Britain could end up staying part of the customs union after leaving the bloc, and blamed Philip Hammond’s department for sacrificing the advantages Brexit offers to avoid short-term trouble.
MPs from Labour and from Boris’s own party are calling for him to be pushed out of the door after the divisive outburst.
The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC that Mr Johnson was not fit for office, and Labour’s Jess Philips abandoned parliamentary language, appealing to Theresa May to ‘F***ing sack him!’
And Tory MP Sarah Woolaston repeated suggestions made by political commentators that Boris may have leaked the tape himself in order to further his own Eurosceptic agenda.
“I don't think Boris Johnson is somebody who should be in one of the high offices of state.” pic.twitter.com/NxGnka9Tjc
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 8, 2018
For god sake sack this man! His own position matters more than the safety and security of our nation. He is the epitome of dripping entitlement. He doesn't understand anything about ordinary lives and he cares even less. F**king sack him! https://t.co/qMmpacOVOJ
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) June 8, 2018
As I was saying to Boris Johnson in November… pic.twitter.com/qFL1KWe6ru
— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) June 8, 2018
Boris ‘leak’ a bit like him using the Tory WhatsApp group as a kind of deniable press briefing. Dressing up publicly broadcast insults under the cover of a ‘private’ discussions won’t wash.
— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) June 8, 2018
Friends of Mr Johnson insisted he had not leaked the recording himself, saying: ‘This was a private dinner under Chatham House rules so it is sad and very disappointing that it has been covertly recorded and distributed to the media.’
A Number 10 spokesperson insisted that the Prime Minister has ‘full confidence’ in Mr Johnson, although Downing Street stopped short of responding directly to the comments he made at the event.
The leaked tapes place fresh pressure on Mrs May, who is presiding over a cabinet unable to reach a position of unity on Brexit.
Yesterday the PM held crisis talks with David Davis as rumours of his resignation swirled, as the pair struggled to come to an agreement over the UK’s ‘backstop’ proposals to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
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A document was eventually published yesterday laying out the Government’s plan for a ‘time-limited’ backstop, although no specific date was included.
The document represents the UK’s counter to an EU proposal to keep Northern Ireland alone in the customs union after Brexit, which was rejected outright by Mrs May because it would draw a border down the Irish Sea.
In a letter to Tory MPs, obtained by The Times, the Prime Minister described the UK proposal as “unpalatable but at worst temporary” and “in no way the Government’s intended or desired” result.
Under the new backstop proposals, if no agreement on customs has been implemented by the end of 2020, a temporary arrangement would ensure that no “tariffs, quotas, rules of origin (or) customs processes” applied to UK-EU trade.
At the same time the UK would be able to strike free trade agreements with other countries.