May’s Brexit deal wraps UK constitution in ‘suicide vest’ - Johnson

Prime minister’s Chequers plan is ‘a humiliation’, says former UK foreign minister

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/File Photo/Reuters

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/File Photo/Reuters


British prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal wraps “a suicide vest around the British constitution” and hands the detonator to the European Union, former foreign minister Boris Johnson said in comments that drew strong criticism.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Mr Johnson pressed his attack on Ms May’s so-called Chequers plan to leave the EU, calling it “a humiliation” that opens “ourselves to perpetual political blackmail”.

Ms May is under fire from all sides of the divisive Brexit debate, with Mr Johnson, favourite to succeed her, leading a push by eurosceptic politicians for the government to “chuck Chequers” and pursue a clean break with the bloc.

But so far, Ms May has signalled she will not drop her blueprint for Britain’s future ties with the bloc after Brexit - the biggest shift in the country’s foreign and trade policy for almost half a century.

“We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution - and handed the detonator to (EU chief negotiator) Michel Barnier,” Mr Johnson wrote.

His words - particularly the reference to a suicide vest - drew condemnation from fellow members of the governing Conservative Party.

Alan Duncan, a minister at the UK foreign office, said Mr Johnson’s comments marked “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”.

“For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much,” he said on Twitter. “I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later.”

Close trade ties

Mr Johnson resigned as foreign secretary over the Chequers plan, named after Ms May’s country residence where the government agreed proposals to maintain close trade ties with the EU in July, and has attacked it as making Britain “a vassal state”.

The prime minister’s plans have also been criticised by EU supporters for offering the “worst of all worlds”.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said her organisation would back a second vote on Brexit if Ms May failed to win a deal that supported workers.

But two ministers batted away Mr Johnson’s appeal for Britain to drop Chequers and negotiate a Canada-style trade deal instead, saying such an agreement would not solve the problem of a new Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“It is not news that he has a difference of opinion with the prime minister and that’s why he left government,” interior minister Sajid Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences.”

Housing minister James Brokenshire urged Conservatives to move forward with the Chequers plan, which Ms May has failed so far to win backing from her party, Britain’s parliament and also EU negotiators.–Reuters