Ken Clarke: Theresa May should have sacked Boris Johnson but is too weak

Posted On: 
19th September 2017

Tory grandee Ken Clarke has issued a stinging rebuke to Boris Johnson after his Brexit intervention, saying if Theresa May had a majority he would have been “sacked instantly”.  

Tory grandee Ken Clarke told the Today programme Boris Johnson would have been sacked if Theresa May's government wasn't so weak
PA Images

The former Cabinet minister called the Foreign Secretary's 4,000-word Telegraph article, which laid out his vision for Britain outside the EU, an “irrelevant nuisance,” and accused him of “personal campaigning”. 

And in a damning indictment of Theresa May’s premiership he added that the Cabinet minister would have been sacked had the Prime Minister's minority Government not been too weak.  

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Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Clarke said: “Personal publicity and campaigning by the Foreign Secretary is actually just an irrelevant nuisance... 

“Sounding off personally in this way is totally unhelpful and he shouldn't exploit the fact that she [Theresa May] hasn’t got a majority in Parliament and he knows perfectly well that normally a foreign secretary would be sacked instantly for doing that... 

“In any normal circumstances he’d have been sacked the day after."

Mr Clarke went on to urge Mr Johnson to unite with his Cabinet colleagues in public, rather than putting “self-publicising articles in the most Eurosceptic newspaper you can think of".

“That’s enough of Boris,” he concluded.  

Meanwhile, Craig Oliver, who served as David Cameron's director of communications, was equally scathing, saying Mr Johnson’s article suggested he had lost “touch with reality”.  

Also speaking on Today, he said: “When you read it it did feel like ‘everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’. And it’s that point that when you lose touch with reality. It looks like you are just being overly positive all the time and that you can’t possibly see that there might be some difficulties. 

“And when people see that - if they had actually got to the end of the 4,000 word article - they would have been a bit concerned that, well, ‘are you actually in touch with reality’?”

The Foreign Secretary’s shock intervention came just days before the Prime Minister is set to make a landmark Brexit speech in Florence. 

The article drew criticism from Cabinet colleagues over the weekend - with Home Secretary Amber Rudd accusing him of "backseat driving" over Brexit - and later from the Prime Minister, who insisted her government is being “driven from the front”