European Union commissioner says Boris Johnson 'completely out of the loop' on Brexit

Sep 21, 2017, 00:40
European Union commissioner says Boris Johnson 'completely out of the loop' on Brexit

The Prime Minister has played down concerns that Johnson is seeking to influence her set-piece speech on Brexit, which she will deliver in Florence on Friday.

Mrs May has called a special meeting of Cabinet at Number 10 on Thursday to discuss her crunch Brexit speech in Italy the following day, which a Downing Street source said would be "a significant moment" in the process of Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

But an article in the Daily Telegraph this afternoon claimed Mr Johnson has told friends he will quit before the weekend if he is unhappy with the Prime Minister's approach.

In his article, Mr Johnson had suggested Britain should not pay money to Brussels for access to the EU's single market beyond the date the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.

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Despite the challenge to her authority, May sought to brush off the controversy during a trip to Canada on Monday, referring to his reputation for gaffes by saying "Boris is Boris".

The foreign secretary told reporters in NY he would not resign and denied the cabinet was split over Brexit policy, insisting: "We are a nest of singing birds".

Ms Patel told Sky News: "I'm for Brexit and that's what the PM is trying to achieve - she's been clear, the Cabinet is clear that we want best deal for Britain".

Any hint of such would leave Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson no choice but to resign, according to the report.

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The foreign secretary was ambushed by journalists in NY after he returned from a run.

Several European leaders, including Angela Merkel, have been contacted by May's top EU adviser Oliver Robbins so they can be reassured that the prime minister's speech in Florence will contain the financial offer, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

But asked directly if he would resign today, Johnson replied "no", telling reporters: "I think you might be barking up the wrong tree".

This option is known by critics as the "EEA-lite", similar to the arrangements adopted by Switzerland, which would be a way of preserving the benefits of the single market.

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Of course, the irony is that it is Mr Clarke, a former Chancellor, who continues to oppose Brexit legislation in the Commons and whose enthusiastic support in favour of the European Union explains, in part, the fault lines that have been widening in the Tory party since Margaret Thatcher's third term 30 years ago. Then, Johnson was forced to say he wouldn't consider standing until 2019 after being spotted having a drink with Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, a key ally of the Prime Minister.

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