Theresa May finally lashes Boris Johnson over 'suicide vest' jibe

Posted On: 
16th September 2018

Theresa May has finally slapped down Boris Johnson after he accused her of strapping a suicide vest to Britain - and suggested his remark made him unfit to be PM.

Theresa May spoke ahead of the six-month countdown to Brexit
Credit: 
BBC

The Prime Minister said the attack by the former foreign secretary - which caused a political storm - was "completely inappropriate".

She also said the speculation over her leadership was becoming “irritating” and insisted she was still a “bloody difficult woman”.

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Mr Johnson sparked fury last week when he said the Chequers deal put forward by the Tory leader was like “a suicide vest around the British constitution” with the detonator in the hands of Brussels.

Mrs May responded directly to the comments for the first time during a BBC Panorama interview to mark the six-month countdown to the Brexit date.

“I have to say that that choice of language is completely inappropriate,” the Prime Minister said in the interview set to be broadcast tomorrow.

“I was Home Secretary for six years, and as Prime Minister for two years now, I think using language like that was not right and it’s not language I would have used.”

The comment will be seen a thinly-veiled suggestion that the remarks by Mr Johnson were not befitting of somebody with ambitions for Downing Street.

On the swirling rumours about her restless backbenchers plotting to bring her down over Brexit, Mrs May said: “I get a little bit irritated but this debate is not about my future.

“This debate is about the future of the people of the UK and the future of the United Kingdom.”

And she said the “bloody difficult woman” - a description of her by Ken Clarke during the Conservative leadership race in 2016 -  was “still there”.

But she added: “There’s a difference between those who think you can only be bloody difficult in public, and those who think actually you bide your time, and you’re bloody difficult when the time is right – and when it really matters.”

'HEROIC' PM

Meanwhile, Mrs May was further buoyed by high praise from avid Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg - a harsh critic of her Chequers plan.

He wrote in the Sun on Sunday that “changing the pilot would not affect the weather”.

And he added: “It is worth remembering the Prime Minister’s virtues. She is determined, thorough and dutiful, and in my view duty is an heroic virtue.

“This gives her great strength and without a clear Parliamentary majority it is not obvious that anyone else could steer the negotiations to a conclusion.”