Cabinet minister David Gauke in thinly-veiled attack on Boris Johnson as he predicts own sacking
Cabinet minister David Gauke has launched a thinly-veiled attack on Boris Johnson as he predicted he would be sacked from government within weeks.
The Justice Secretary - a vocal critic of Conservative colleagues pushing to leave the European Union without a deal - hit out at "populist politicians" for telling voters what they want to hear.
And he joked that he "might only have three weeks" in the job, after the Conservative leadership frontrunner said only ministers "reconciled" to a no-deal Brexit would be allowed to serve in the Cabinet.
Addressing the annual judges' dinner in the City of London on Wednesday night, Mr Gauke said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the forces of populism are much stronger in this country and internationally than has been the case for some time.
"A willingness by politicians to say what they think the public want to hear, and a willingness by large parts of the public to believe what they are told by populist politicians, has led to a deterioration in our public discourse.
"This has contributed to a growing distrust of our institutions – whether that be Parliament, the civil service, the mainstream media or the judiciary."
He added: "Rather than recognising the challenges of a fast-changing society require sometimes complex responses, that we live in a world of trade-offs, that easy answers are usually false answers, we have seen the rise of the simplifiers.
"Those grappling with complex problems are not viewed as public servants but as engaged in a conspiracy to seek to frustrate the will of the public. They are ‘enemies of the people’."
The Justice Secretary warned that such language - a reference to a 2016 Daily Mail headline attacking judges over Brexit - would only serve to "pour poison into our national conversation".
He said: "Our judiciary has a reputation for intellectual rigour, careful consideration of the arguments, and a serious-minded determination to each decision based on what is right and not necessarily what is superficially popular. I am not sure that all politicians have the same reputation."
Mr Gauke meanwhile described himself as "a veteran" compared to previous Justice Secretaries as he joked about his own possible sacking.
"It is true that my predecessor but two, Michael Gove, made it to his second speech," he said.
"But he left the Government one week later when a new Prime Minister, with whom he did not see eye to eye, took office. How times have changed. I might only have three weeks."
Mr Gauke has been an increasingly vocal opponent of Mr Johnson in recent weeks, hitting out at the Conservative leadership hopeful's spending plans and warning against the effects of a no-deal Brexit.
He tweeted: "I’m the last person to want to curtail the leadership race. But every Telegraph column by Boris Johnson increases borrowing by billions of pounds.”
And the Justice Secretary added: "If Boris wins, good luck to whoever becomes his Chancellor. It would be a noble act of self-sacrifice to accept the job. Who’d do it?"
Mr Guake recently saw off a vote of no-confidence pushed by Brexiteers in his local party.