Boris told ‘nobody is unsackable’ by Tory heavyweights as his job hangs by thread
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 02 October 2017
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Brexit head banger Boris Johnson has suffered a bruising day at Tory Party conference as calls to sack him grow.
Just days before Theresa May’s Florence speech the Foreign Secretary angered his boss by writing a 4,000-word essay painting his utopian vision of Brexit and as conference kicked off he also set out his red lines.
These included contradictions of what the PM had outlined in her keynote speech in Italy.
And today it seemed pressure was building within the party for Johnson to either shut up or clear off.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson - touted as a potential successor to May - used a conference fringe event to tell her MSPs: “If any of you think of writing anything, without telling me, that is counter to current Scottish Conservative policy; you are out on your ear because nobody is unsackable.”
She said Johnson had insisted that his comments had been in line with May’s policy but added: “If I was able to interpret the actions, and the thought process behind the actions of the Foreign Secretary, then I think I could make a better living doing that than I do now.”
And Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon also slapped down Johnson, saying he had agreed to a transition period of “around two years” at a Cabinet meeting before May’s Florence speech. He dismissed the Foreign Secretary’s demand that it should last “not a second more” as a “relatively minor issue” and stressed “none of us are unsackable”.
And prior to his speech to conference Chancellor Philip Hammond echoed those words warning that signs of disunity in Government were harming the UK’s Brexit negotiations. He also sent a thinly-veiled caution to the Foreign Secretary that Cabinet ministers owe their loyalty to the PM and added “nobody is unsackable”.
And in a fierce attack on Johnson MEP Ashley Fox, leader of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament, said the UK’s Brexit strategy was not helped by ministers “who should know better”.
He, told a fringe event in Manchester: “Sometimes that British position is not assisted by colleagues in Government who should know better. We will get a much better position if, as Government, as a party, we’re entirely united.
“Don’t be surprised if we are mocked and told that we’re weak from the other side of the Channel. That is entirely to be expected. But please let’s not knock our own side.”
Brexit Minister Steve Baker, answering a question about the two-year transition period, joked he could not comment on Fox’s remarks.
However he told the same event: “The ministerial code requires us all to adopt collective decision-making and I am determined to do that - notwithstanding the example occasionally set by others.”
Johnson did however have one fan in Manchester – fellow Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg.
“I agree with everything Boris has been saying recently,” he said adding that Johnson was one of the “great heroes” of Brexit who has been setting out policy with “panache, verve and vigour”.
“There has been too much crying into our soup and saying it is all frightfully difficult and we are only doing it because the British people want us to do it rather than because we think it is a wonderful opportunity for the nation,” he said. “I think the Government has been too Eeyorish about it.”