MPs are returning to work and the pre-Tory conference Battle of Brexit has begun.
Brexit cheerleader and wannabe prime minister Boris Johnson has savaged Theresa May’s Brexit plan saying the proposed Chequers deal would leave the UK with ‘diddly squat’ and hand the European Union ‘victory’.
On the Brexiteer wing of the Tory party his words will be met with glee.
Number 10 has insisted the Brexit strategy is ‘precise and pragmatic’ but May is now faced with a dilemma which could result in her wobbling premiership finally toppling over.
Two factions of the Tory party are now openly denouncing the Chequers plan. Not just the Brexiteers but those like Nick Boles who voted Remain but believe the proposal is not good enough.
May faces the very real prospect of not getting the deal passed by parliament. And that would probably be the end of her leadership.
Johnson, of course, doesn’t actually care ‘diddly squat’ about how the Brexit negotiations go. He has only one motivator for interventions like this – he wants to be prime minister. If that would have been made more likely by supporting the Chequers bid – which he initially did – that is the route he would have taken.
May has to decide whether she compromises the plan or takes on the dissenters in her own party and risks being dumped out of Downing Street.
Johnson – and election guru Sir Lynton Crosby who is allegedly masterminding the former foreign secretary’s insurrection – will not stop flinging muck at the PM. She was too weak to silence him when he was in the cabinet and she has no power over him at all now he has returned to the backbenches.
By the time the Tories convene for conference in Birmingham at the end of the month the party could be engulfed by all out war.