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Former Tory minister condemns 'pitiful' Boris Johnson Brexit speech

John Ashmore

2 min read

Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry has torn into Boris Johnson over yesterday's "embarrassing" speech on Brexit. 

The Foreign Secretary used the address to "reach out" to Remain voters, while also insisting that any backsliding on the referendum result would be a "betrayal" of those who voted to leave the EU. 

Mr Johnson tried to quell the fears of pro-Europeans, claiming Brexit would be "the great liberal project of the age" and could "unite this country". 

Former Business minister Ms Soubry offered a withering verdict on the speech, telling Channel 4 News:

“I’m afraid to say that Boris has confirmed my very worst fears about him. I don’t think he’s a very good Foreign Secretary. I think he has on a number of occasions broken collective responsibility.

"But I think today, he really has hugely lacked the sort of grown-up responsible, sensible approach that we expect from one of the most senior members of our cabinet in the approach to Brexit. It was a very poor, it was actually a pitiful speech and I think a lot of people found it really rather embarrassing.”

Elsewhere Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, attacked Mr Johnson for failing to mention Northern Ireland. 

“This was an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy from Boris Johnson. His vision of Brexit may be many things, but it is not liberal," he said.

“His plan would see Britain sever trade ties with our largest trading partner, weaken protections for workers, consumers and the environment, and jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, a subject he didn't even bother to mention."

And former Labour minister Lord Adonis piled in over Mr Johnson's refusal to rule out resigning from the Cabinet. 

"Johnson's refusal to deny that he would resign should he be thwarted in his ambitions for Brexit is just more juvenile game playing," he said.

"In fact he should resign now because after more than a year as Foreign Secretary he has yet to demonstrate any understanding of Britain’s place in the world or of our relationships with our friends and neighbours."

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard described Mr Johnson appealing to Remain voters as “like sending an arsonist to put out a fire”. 


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