Senior Tories hit out at Boris Johnson for comparing Chequers Brexit deal with post-crash Greece
Senior Conservative politicians have hit back at Boris Johnson after he suggested Britain could face a Greek-style economic catastrophe under Theresa May's Brexit plans.
In a fresh attack on Mrs May’s plan, the former Foreign Secretary, who quit last month over the deal struck by the Cabinet at Chequers in July, said it should be “chucked” or the UK would become a “perpetual punk of Brussels”.
In his weekly Daily Telegraph column Mr Johnson said that EU “bullying” of Greece, which was severely hit by the 2008 financial crisis and forced into austerity by European leaders, left a “direct read-across for Britain”.
In response to his article, titled “the state of Greece shows us why it is crucial to chuck the Chequers deal” Tory MP Ed Vaizey, Tweeted: “No it doesn’t”.
The former culture minister added in a later post: “As far as I’m aware chequers not proposing we join the single currency”.
Meanwhile Conservative backbencher Paul Masterton mocked Mr Johnson's claim with an ironic series of soundbites associated with avid Brexiteers.
Former trade minister Lord Livingston said Greece's fortunes showed why people should not believe "populists" who play down the fate of leaving the EU without a deal.
However Mr Johnson was backed by former Brexit minister Steve Baker, who also quit last month over the plans, and eurosceptic backbencher Bernard Jenkin.
Mr Johnson’s latest intervention comes weeks after he soared to the top of a poll of party members as favourite to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader and Prime Minister.
In his column, he said that under Mrs May’s controversial Chequers proposals, Britain would become a "rules-taker from Brussels, with no say on those rules".
“Look at the humiliation of Greece – an EU member – and ask yourself how the EU will legislate with the UK out of the room, and when we can no longer do anything to protect ourselves from the imposition of those rules,” he wrote.
Mr Johnson added that it was because the country “meekly obeyed” the EU that the Mediterranean land's unemployment levels stand at 20% and the economy is a quarter of the size it was before the financial crash.
Eloise Todd, the head of pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain said: “Boris is a poundshop Farage and his latest column is utter claptrap. This is the definition of project fear.
“If Boris is so confident in how bad the EU is compared to Brexit, he should welcome a people’s vote on the deal against the deal we have now.”