Boris Johnson fails to deny he could quit over Brexit row

Posted On: 
18th September 2017

Boris Johnson has fuelled speculation that he could quit the Cabinet over the Brexit row engulfing the Government.

The Foreign Secretary pointedly refused to rule out resigning if he is not satisfied with the direction the Government is heading in under Theresa May.

Mr Johnson stunned Cabinet colleagues at the weekend with a 4,000-word article in the Daily Telegraph setting out his vision for life outside the European Union.

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His shock intervention came just days before the Prime Minister is set to make a keynote Brexit speech in Florence.

The Foreign Secretary also sparked a fresh row by repeating the Vote Leave claim that Brexit will save the UK around £350m a week, the bulk of which could be given to the NHS.

That led to Sir David Norgrove, head of the UK's statistics watchdog, to accuse him of a "clear misuse" of official statistics.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd accused Mr Johnson of "backseat driving" over Brexit - and he was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister, who insisted her government is being “driven from the front”.

Asked if he was willing to quit his job over the row, the Foreign Secretary would only say: "You might be barking up the wrong tree here."

He added: "Let's not try aand find rows where there really aren't rows. I perfectly understand that we have to honour our legal obligations and what I'm trying to do is set out in advance of the Prime Minister's speech - people want to know where we're going and I think it's a good thing to have a drum roll.

"When the burden of office is lifted from my shoulders I will of course look back with great pride on my time doing all sorts of things."

However, Mr Johnson insisted he was being loyal to the Prime Minister.

He said: "As for backseat driving, there's one driver in this car - to use Amber's metaphor - it's Theresa. What I'm trying to do is sketch out what I think is the incredibly exciting landscape of the destination ahead and that's where Theresa is taking us.

"As the Prime Minister has rightly said, we don't want to be paying into the EU after we leave - we certainly don't want to be paying in extortionate sums for access to the single market - they wouldn't pay for access to our market. But insofar as we are on the hook for stuff in the short-term that we've agreed to, that's fair enough and I've never objected to that."