Boris Johnson has slammed Theresa May’s soft Brexit deal, labeling it an “absolute stinker.” In a 12-hour showdown at Chequers, a fiery Johnson warned that the deal will reduce the UK to nothing more than an EU “vassal state.”
The Remainer-inspired Brexit deal will tie the UK to the European Union with a string of rules, while Johnson and the Brexiteers are seeking to reshape it. After a marathon debate on the proposal, the foreign secretary warned May that selling the deal to an already doubting public will be hard.
Johnson was leading the Euroskeptics’ push against May, urging the prime minister to toughen up the list of demands that May will present at Brexit talks in Brussels next week. Before the kooky former London mayor gave in to May’s demands and threw his support behind her for the soft Brexit plan, he added: “Anyone defending the proposal we have just agreed will find it like trying to polish a turd,” according to the Sun.
He led the charge by Euroskeptic ministers to toughen the list of demands to be presented at exit talks in Brussels on July 16. According to the Sun, one who was present at the meeting said the Brexiteers’ resolve dissipated after hours of deadlock.
“They all put up a brave fight but they were outnumbered and worn down during a long, hard day. In the end, their resistance just fizzled out and they signed up to the package.”
Johnson was not alone in pushing for a harder Brexit stance – Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, and Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt all urged the PM to take a tougher deal to the table in Brussels. It is understood that resistance dissolved when Environment Secretary Michael Gove agreed to the Brexit blueprint.
The summit’s mood lightened as, one by one, the Brexiteers were picked off.
Boris, however, proved a tough nut to crack. “We’ve been blaming many of our problems over the past 30 years on EU-imposed legislation,” he said. “We are now saying we need to keep all these regulations as they are vital to our economic health.”
Ministers worked to convince the staunch Brexiteer, insisting that the deal was better than anything that would be offered by a pro-Remain parliament.
According to an insider quoted by the Sun: “It was a bit like a hung jury where two or three are holding out against the majority. It finally dawned on Boris and others that they could stay up all night arguing but in the end the only two options would be to sign up to Theresa’s plan or resign.”
When Boris finally gave up the ghost, he had one final barb for the PM’s deal. “Luckily, we have some expert turd-polishers in this government,” he said. Barely able to contain his disappointment at the soft Brexit deal, Johnson said: “It’s been a tough day for a Brexiteer.”
May warned her MPs that Tory infighting must come to an end, adding that she will sack the yellow-haired foreign secretary if he undermines her. Once the deadlock was over, the pile of taxi-fare vouchers remained untouched, left there for any MPs prepared to give up their ministerial car and quit.
Theresa May will take the deal to Brussels on July 16.
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