The ‘great charlatan’ Boris Johnson back in the spotlight ‘blaming others for his mess’

PUBLISHED: 10:13 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 03 September 2018

Boris Johnson  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

2018 Getty Images

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has laid into the prime minister’s Chequers plan, accusing her and the government of surrendering to Brussels.

What has Johnson said?

He has used a mixture of war and British wrestling analogies to mount a full-on assault on May’s Brexit plan.

He said the UK/EU negotiations over the Brexit deal are a “fix” that is “about as pre-ordained as a bout between Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy” - big stars in the 1980s.

So he is not happy about the Chequers plan then?

Not in the slightest, but then he resigned as foreign secretary in July because of it.

In his Telegraph column on Monday, he said the plan hammered out by the PM was a “disaster” that would mean “abandoning the notion of the UK as a proud, independent economic actor”.

What’s the problem?

The Irish border/customs issue, widely seen as the main sticking point in negotiations, between London and Brussels, could have been fixed in the past two years, he argues, but the fact they haven’t is proof of figures in government trying to “stop a proper Brexit”.

He said: “The scandal is not that we have failed, but that we have not even tried.”

Why is he coming out with this now?

The intervention has been widely interpreted as the latest step in Johnson’s long walk towards the front door of 10 Downing Street as prime minister in place of May.

Does anyone else agree with him?

The article has received support among Brexiteers.

Steve Baker, who quit as a Brexit minister alongside his boss, then-Brexit secretary Davis Davis, in July, said it was a “superb article”.

Owen Paterson, also a vociferous Brexiteer, said it was a “clear articulation” of the “’myths’ surrounding the Irish border & solutions to supposed problems.”

Davis told the Times at the weekend that the Chequers blueprint was “actually almost worse than being in” the EU.

But on Monday, asked on Good Morning Britain if it would be better if May stood down, he said: “No, we don’t need any more turbulence right now.”

And who is criticising Johnson?

Mostly those from the Remain camp.

Tory Sarah Wollaston, a longstanding Johnson critic, said: “No surprise to see the great charlatan blaming others for a mess of his own creation.”

Prominent Labour backbencher Chuka Umunna, who backs a campaign for a second referendum, said: “The scandal of Brexit is that a small group of hard-right Tory Brexiteers are holding the country hostage to pursue a destructive, ideological hard Brexit against the interests of the country.”

And May ally Damian Green told Today: “We’re walking a narrow path, with people chucking rocks at us from both sides.”

But it was not just the Remain side having a pop.

Brexit-supporting Times columnist Iain Martin also dryly tweeted: “If only Boris Johnson had occupied one of four major offices of state and been in cabinet for last two years. Could all have been different.”

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