Amber shows red light to Boris' back-seat driving

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:04 17 September 2017

Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd today accused her Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson of "back-seat driving" as the row over his Brexit intervention deepened.

She publicly slapped down the Foreign Secretary after he used a 4,000-word essay in yesterday's Daily Telegraph to set out his personal vision for post-Brexit Britain just days before the Prime Minister delivers a major speech in Florence.

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr, Ms Rudd said: "I don't want him managing the Brexit process.

"What we've got is Theresa May managing that process. She's driving the car... and I'm going to make sure that, as far as I'm concerned and the rest of the Cabinet is concerned, we help her do that.

"You could call it back-seat driving, absolutely. But I'm very clear that the Government and the Cabinet supports Theresa May."

In his lengthy op-ed - which some believe was intended as a speech Mr Johnson was frustrated in trying to give - the Foreign Secretary said the UK should not give the EU any money to get access to the single market after Brexit.

He also repeated the controversial and widely-disputed claim made during the referendum campaign that leaving the EU would give the NHS an extra £350m a week.

The article has angered Downing Street just days before Mrs May heads to Italy to give a set-piece speech expected to set out her plans on transitional trade payments to the EU.

No 10 was this morning forced to send out the Prime Minister's de facto deputy, First Secretary of State Damian Green, to do a round of media interviews following a flood of damaging headlines claiming Mr Johnson's article was an opening salvo ahead of a leadership bid at the Conservative party conference next month.

The Mail on Sunday quoted one of Mr Johnson's supporters as boasting that he had "just lobbed a hand grenade through Downing Street's window". The same paper also said a fellow minister said the PM should "have the balls" to fire the Foreign Secretary for threatening to sabotage her speech.

The call was echoed by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable who told Andrew Marr that she should "fire this guy on Monday morning", saying that if she did not her authority would be "reduced to zero".

And Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted that "on the day of a terror attack where Britons were maimed, just hours after the threat level is raised, our only thoughts should be on service".

After his article Mr Johnson tweeted that he was "all behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit".

The government is publishing its latest Brexit position paper, on the question of security cooperation, tomorrow.

Ms Rudd said today that the UK wanted a treaty that would allow it to access the tools that it currently had use of, including Interpol, and that her discussions with European colleagues had made her confident a deal would be reached.

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