Boris Johnson launches new attack on May as Brexit tensions grow

London: Britain’s Boris Johnson launched another broadside against Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday amid rumours that he is preparing a leadership bid as Brexit tensions divide their party. Rumours about the former foreign minister’s marital infidelities also swirled, with his allies accusing government officials of leaking information to undermine Johnson’s chances.
Johnson urged May to give Britain a post-Brexit economic boost by committing to not raising taxes or introducing new taxes, saying she should follow US President Donald Trump’s example.
“Now is the time for this Conservative government to show how a post-Brexit Britain will be a happy and dynamic economy,” he wrote in his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
The centre-right newspaper said that Johnson’s remarks “will do little to dampen speculation that he is preparing to make his pitch to take over as Conservative leader”.
Johnson resigned from the government in July over May’s plan for Britain to retain close trade ties with the EU after Brexit. The plan is known as “Chequers” after the prime minister’s country retreat where it was agreed at a cabinet meeting.
Steve Baker, a former junior Brexit minister who also resigned over the plan, on Monday warned that the Conservative Party faced a “catastrophic split” if May sticks to it.
But May’s spokesman on Monday said it was “the only plan on the table” after opponents failed to propose alternatives.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Johnson said the government’s strategy put the country in a “suicide vest” with Brussels holding the detonator.
“This is not a language that the prime minister would choose to use. Beyond that, I don’t plan on giving this article further oxygen,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.
The spokesman also rejected as “categorically untrue and offensive” accusations from Johnson’s supporters that Downing Street had leaked details of his marital indiscretions.
The Daily Mail and The Sun reported that Johnson had gone on “a series of high-class dates” with former Conservative Party communications director Carrie Symonds who quit her job abruptly last month.
Some of the lurid details were said to have come from a dossier compiled by May’s office in 2016 when she was competing with Johnson for the Conservative leadership. — AFP
Following a series of revelations, Johnson last week said that he and Marina Wheeler, his wife of 25 years, were divorcing.
Johnson and Wheeler married in 1993, his second marriage after he split from first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen after only a year.
In 2004, Johnson was accused of having a years-long affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt. He dismissed the accusations as an “inverted pyramid of piffle” but was forced to resign his position from the Conservatives’ shadow cabinet.
Media reports said he had affairs with at least two other women during his marriage, including one with whom he had a child. — AFP