Boris Johnson under fire for Brexit ‘suicide vest’ remark
Johnson, 54, is a strong supporter of Brexit and quit May’s cabinet in July after rejecting her proposal for close economic ties with the EU after the UK quits the bloc next year.world Updated: Sep 09, 2018 23:24 IST
Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has compared Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan as akin to wrapping the Constitution in a “suicide vest”, sparking furore from colleagues.
Johnson, 54, is a strong supporter of Brexit and quit May’s cabinet in July after rejecting her proposal for close economic ties with the EU after the UK quits the bloc next year.
Attacking May’s Brexit plan in an article in the Mail on Sunday, he accused the EU of “bullying”, but questioned why the response had been “so utterly feeble” from British negotiators. He wrote that rather than getting a “generous free trade deal”, Britain is saying, “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” to Brussels.
“It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla… We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution — and handed the detonator to (EU’s chief negotiator) Michel Barnier,” he wrote.
According to Johnson, the May government always had a “secret agenda” to keep the UK in the single market and customs union, adding: “We have put our own heads deliberately on the block.”
Tom Tugendhat, former army officer and the Conservative chair of the foreign affairs committee of Parliament, attacked Johnson over his choice of words, saying: “A suicide bomber murdered many in the courtyard of my office in Helmand. The carnage was disgusting, limbs and flesh hanging from trees and bushes.
“Brave men who stopped him killing me and others died In horrific pain. Some need to grow up. Comparing the PM to that isn’t funny.”
Two ministers in the foreign office who had worked with Johnson also criticised his statement. Alan Duncan said the article was “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”, adding that if it were not the end of Johnson’s political career, “I will make sure it is later”. Alistair Burt, tweeted: “I’m stunned at the nature of this attack. There is no justification for such an outrageous, inappropriate and hurtful analogy. If we don’t stop this extraordinary use of language over Brexit, our country might never heal. Again, I say, enough.”
As Johnson’s remarks dominated politics, The Sunday Times reported that May’s aides had written a 4,000-word “dirty dossier” on Johnson in 2016, exposing a “catalogue of lurid allegations” against him, but officials at Downing Street and Conservative headquarters denied circulating it.
First Published: Sep 09, 2018 23:23 IST