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Irish EU commissioner: 'Diminished' Boris Johnson is 'completely out of the loop' on Brexit

3 min read

A top EU commissioner has accused Boris Johnson of being "completely out of the loop" on Brexit.

In a scathing attack, Phil Hogan said the Foreign Secretary was "a diminished figure" following the row sparked by his 4,000-word article in the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Johnson revived the Vote Leave claim that leaving the EU will save Britain around £350m a week, most of which could go the NHS - leading to criticism from the head of the UK statistics watchdog.

The Cabinet minister and prominent Brexiteer was also slapped down by Theresa May, who insisted her government was "being driven from the front" by her.

Mr Johnson was also forced to deny he was planning to resign from the Government, and will instead be in the front row when the Prime Minister delivers a major speech on Brexit in Florence on Friday.

Responding to the row in an interview with the Evening Standard, Mr Hogan - who is Ireland's EU commissioner for agriculture - said: "Clearly, he is not directly involved in the negotiations on behalf of the British Government with the EU.

"He certainly has made very strange statements that are completely contradictory, and completely at odds with his own government’s position as well as the possibility of being reasonable with the EU in finalising a deal.

"So it strikes me that he is completely out of the loop in relation to the type of concrete proposals that are required and that are being considered by the UK Government."

He added: "Mr Johnson is behaving and acting and speaking strangely. It’s clear that his reputation is not good and he is a diminished figure in the Government."

Mr Hogan also said he was "amazed" that Mr Johnson's article had made no mention of the future of the Irish border after Brexit.

"You’d think that the Foreign Secretary would have ideas about how to manage the UK’s main land border with the European Union, but obviously not," he said.

"So if Mrs May is as vague on the three questions as Mr Johnson was in her speech in Florence then the signs will not be good."

Mr Johnson was also criticised by Norman Tebbit, who dismissed speculation that the Foreign Secretary could take over from Mrs May. 

"Does anybody seriously want to overthrow the Prime Minister - in the Conservative Party that is - and have another period when the leadership is in doubt -- ....? No they don’t," the Tory former party chairman told Radio 5Live: 

"Suppose [Mr Johnson] were to bring down the Prime Minister, and suppose he were to get into Number 10, what would his position be? He couldn’t demand loyalty from his colleagues."

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