EXCL Boris Johnson frustrated by fellow Cabinet Brexiteers over push for hard exit
Boris Johnson believes he is being hung out to dry by fellow Cabinet eurosceptics over his calls for Theresa May to pursue a hard Brexit.
Pals of the Foreign Secretary say he is becoming increasingly frustrated at other Leavers in Theresa May’s top team “hiding behind his skirts” when the issue is discussed.
Relations between Mr Johnson and Michael Gove have also worsened in recent weeks, despite the pair appearing to have patched up their previous differences.
Mr Gove famously withdrew his support for Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign in order to throw his own hat into the ring following David Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the EU referendum.
But the Environment Secretary is among those Leave backers in the Cabinet - alongside the likes of David Davis and Penny Mordaunt - who the Foreign Secretary thinks are failing to pull their weight in making the case for a clean break from the EU.
The Cabinet, which is finely balanced between those who supported Leave and others who voted Remain, finally discussed what they want the Brexit “end state” to be for the first time shortly before Parliament broke up for Christmas.
Mr Johnson has told friends the debate ended in “a score draw” between those in favour of a hard Brexit and those, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, who want to maintain the closest possible ties with the EU.
One ally of the Foreign Secretary said: “In Cabinet, it is always Boris who has to make the case for a clean break and why Britain needs to exploit the opportunities which Brexit provides.
“The other Leave supporters tend to hide behind his skirts and don’t say very much. He feels like he is being left out on a limb when they should be supporting him.”
Mr Johnson is known to be planning a major speech on Brexit in the New Year, although his allies believe Downing Street may try to stop it happening.
He had planned to make another speech on Europe in September, but after that was blocked it ended up being published in full in the Daily Telegraph on the eve of the Tory conference in Manchester.
One friend said: “If they try to stop him a second time, things really could get quite nasty.
“Boris has no intention of walking away, but he knows that he can blow everything sky-high if he wants to.”