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Boris Johnson sparks furious Tory backlash by comparing Theresa May Brexit deal to ‘suicide vest’

3 min read

Boris Johnson has sparked fresh outrage from fellow senior Tories by claiming Theresa May’s Brexit deal has left the UK strapped to a "suicide vest".

In another stinging attack on the Prime Minister’s Chequers agreement, the ex-Foreign Secretary said ministers had handed the "detonator" to European Union negotiating chief, Michel Barnier.

Mr Johnson quit his post in July after the plan, which aims to keep close economic links with Brussels in the future, was agreed by the Cabinet in July.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: “At every stage in the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants.

"We have agreed to the EU's timetable; we have agreed to hand over £39bn, for nothing in return.

"Now under the Chequers proposal, we are set to agree to accept their rules - forever - with no say on the making of those rules. It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla.

"And the reason is simple: Northern Ireland, and the insanity of the so-called 'backstop'. We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail.

"We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution - and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.

"We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose - at any time - to crack apart the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland."

But his comments led to an instant backlash from Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, who took to Twitter to make clear he would block his former boss's attempts to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader.

Meanwhile Tory chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and former soldier Tom Tugendhat suggested Mr Johnson "grow up".


The row follows increased attention on the former Cabinet minister’s private life, after it was revealed last week that he and his wife, Marina Wheeler, would divorce after 25 years of marriage.

His latest Brexit broadside coincided with reports that aides to Theresa May compiled a “dirty dossier” of “lurid allegations” against him.

The Times reports that a 4,000-word "war book" began circulating in Westminster last week, which claimed he had lied about past affairs.

The paper says the document was produced for use during the 2016 Tory leadership election, but was not used because the former London mayor dropped out early.

A senior aide to the Prime Minister denounced the claims as “an absolutely shocking and quite outrageous attempt” to smear Mrs May’s top team and Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis.

He said: “It is genuinely offensive and categorically untrue that we have done anything to update this document. The suggestion that this was circulated, updated or briefed in any way by CCHQ or No 10 is a lie.”

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