For the Conservatives this is all out war – and Boris Johnson is advancing on Downing Street.
The former foreign secretary is planning a Blitzkrieg on the Chequers plan as the Tories prepare for conference.
Monday after Monday in the pages of the Tory parish newsletter the Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson will fling grenades in the general direction of Theresa May.
This is designed to fracture the grassroots and cause sniping between the backbenchers and cabinet.
His aides are briefing that this is all part of a campaign to convince her to ‘chuck Chequers’ and return to the Mansion House version of how the UK should leave the European Union.
Who are you trying to fool Boris? We all know you too well.
In the months before the referendum Johnson put pen to paper to scribble two different versions of the same column: One backing Leave and the other Remain.
Only two days later he shocked then prime minister David Cameron by finally supporting the Leave campaign. The reason? It shouldn’t take a genius to read between lines.
Johnson was trying to predict what the result would be – and the fall out. Deep in the nihilistic undergrowth that swamps Johnson’s political brain he was thinking something along these lines: ‘Remain will win but if it is close the prime minister will need to have a reshuffle and some prominent Leavers will have to be promoted.’
He got that prediction only half right.
Johnson is a political opportunist … but it takes the brain underneath that blonde mop a little while to get in to focus.
After May revealed her Chequers plan BoJo toasted it: ‘Bubbles all around chums! Here’s to Theresa!’
But once Brexit secretary David Davis had jumped ship he again spotted a chance: Force the PM to scrap Chequers and make her so weak that he could ride to the rescue.
Why not just be honest Boris? This is about you and your ambitions not about the Chequers plan. Have you even read it?
One Tory MP agrees: ‘Boris changes direction like the wind to get what he wants. And I think that drive and ambition will, at some point, land him the big job.
‘Does that worry me? No. There are people I would back before him to be the next leader – but not many. Look at his record as London mayor – he was a free marketeer with a liberal, internationalist outlook. He had the job he wanted so he acted true to his core beliefs.
‘There was no populism. There was no protectionism. But if he thinks he can gain a few more supporters in the right place by hinting at something else he will.’
May will be challenged by Boris. The question now is a simple one: When?
He is only planning to be at conference for one day to appear at a ‘Chuck Chequers’ rally. But, without doubt, he will be playing disruptor-in-chief and it might just force May over the edge.