Downing Street mocks Boris Johnson over his latest attack on Theresa May's Brexit strategy

Posted On: 
17th September 2018

Downing Street has mocked Boris Johnson after the former Cabinet minister launched his latest attack on Theresa May's Brexit strategy.

Former Cabinet minister Boris Johnson has again sounded off about Brexit
PA Images

The ex-Foreign Secretary - who quit the Government  in July in protest at the so-called Chequers plan - took aim at the proposals to keep the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open after Brexit.

He said if the suggestion of a ‘combined customs territory’ with EU rules on goods were implemented it would be “the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule”.

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And he pinpointed a December 2017 ‘backstop’ agreement - which could see just Northern Ireland remain in a full customs union with the bloc - as the moment the Government slipped up.

“For Ulster Unionists of any description, for the Tory party, for anyone who cares about the union between Britain and Northern Ireland, it is a monstrosity,” he wrote in his weekly Telegraph column.

But a spokesman for Theresa May today noted that Mr Johnson had accepted the backstop proposal at the time and in fact paid tribute to the Prime Minister for her efforts.

"Boris Johnson was a member of the Cabinet that agreed to the December joint-report, including the backstop,” the spokesman said.

"At the time he congratulated the Prime Minister for her ‘determination’ in securing the deal.

"He remained in government for a full seven months after the joint-report was agreed and he was also a member of the Cabinet sub-committee which agreed the UK’s proposed customs backstop."

Mr Johnson insisted in his article that “extra checks” could be done “away from the border” on the island of Ireland through so-called trusted trader and self-assessment schemes, which would ensure the border could remain open.

But the Prime Minister heaped scorn on those plans in an interview with the BBC, saying: “You don't solve the issue of no hard border by having a hard border 20km inside Ireland.”

She added: “The people of Northern Ireland deserve to be listened to in these negotiations by the UK government as people elsewhere in this country...

“They don't want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

“The only proposal that has been put forward that delivers on them not having that hard border and ensures that we don't carve up the United Kingdom is the Chequers plan.”