WATCH: Boris Johnson says it is 'not too late to save Brexit' as he savages Theresa May approach

Posted On: 
18th July 2018

Boris Johnson has said it is “not too late to save Brexit” as he laid into Theresa May’s “miserable” plan for leaving the European Union.

Ex-Cabinet minister Boris Johnson delivered his resignation statement in the Commons today
PA Images

The former Foreign Secretary used a resignation speech in the House of Commons to urge the Prime Minister to change course, as he warned: "We will not get another chance to get it right."

The Tory heavyweight dramatically quit last week in protest at the Brexit agreement struck by the Cabinet at Chequers earlier this month.

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In his resignation letter, Mr Johnson said plans for a common rule book between Brussels and London would leave the UK as a "colony" of the EU.

Surrounded by his supporters in the Commons, the Uxbridge MP said: "It is not too late to save Brexit. We have time in these negotiations. We have changed tack once and we can change again."

Mr Johnson contrasted the Chequers deal with the Lancaster House speech the Prime Minister made in January last year, when she first announced that the UK would quit the single market and customs union.

He said the former approach would not leave the UK “half in half out” of the EU - but the Chequers deal keeps it tied to similar rules and standards as well as the influence of EU courts.

He blamed the change on a “fog of self doubt” from the Prime Minister, who he lavished with praise despite expectations he could use the statement to launch a pitch for the Tory leadership.

Elsewhere, Mr Johnson took aim at the “fantastical Heath Robinson customs arrangement” which would see the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of the bloc - noting that it would reduce the scope for striking global trade deals.

“If we pretend otherwise we continue to make the fatal mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the public,” he explained.

“Saying one thing to the EU about what we are doing and then saying another thing to the electorate.”

And he added: “Let us again aim explicitly for that glorious vision of Lancaster House a strong independent self-governing Britain that is genuinely open to the world.

“Not the miserable permanent limbo of Chequers. Not the democratic disaster of ongoing harmonisation with no way out and no say for the UK...

“We need to take one decision now before all others - and that is to believe in this country and in what it can do.”


The intervention from the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP came moments before Mrs May faced a grilling on Brexit by the powerful Liaison Committee of senior MPs.

She will later come face-to-face with her restless backbench MPs when she addresses a meeting of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee at 5pm.

The Prime Minister last night narrowly saw off a rebellion by pro-Remain Tory MPs that would have forced the Government to seek a customs union with the EU.

Twelve Conservative MPs defied the Government in the knife-edge vote on the amendment to the Trade Bill, and Tory whips are said to have warned rebel MPs ahead of the vote that their defiance could trigger a general election.

Labour MP Wes Streeting, of the pro-EU People's Vote campaign, said: "Boris Johnson's speech was a total damp squib. All it shows is that while the car is careering towards the Brexit cliff-edge, senior Conservatives are still fighting over what song to play on the stereo."