Boris Johnson tonight piled yet more pressure on Theresa May’s under-fire Brexit plans – warning it would be a ‘disaster’ for Britain’ and a ‘triumph’ for Brussels.
He followed up on his 4,500-word essay savaging the Chequers proposal and printed this morning with a tour of the television studios this evening putting the boot into the plans.
The former Foreign Secretary said Chequers would leave the UK bound by EU rules with no seat at the table – leaving the UK ‘a vassal state – a colony’.
He said it would mean that for all Britain’s ‘power and might’ the country would have effectively handed over its affairs to Brussels.
And he refused to rule out a leadership challenge against the beleaguered Prime Minister.
His blistering attacks on the Brexit blueprint on the eve of what is set to be an explosive Tory Party conference is designed to inflict maximum damage on the plan.
Mrs May is facing a Tory revolt at home over her Brexit plan while abroad EU leaders have been scathing about it and demanded major changes.
She has repeatedly stuck to her line that Chequers remains the only credible proposal on the table – but ministers are stepping up no deal plans amid fears the talks will fail.
Boris Johnson (pictured on Sky News today) followed up on his excoriating attack on Chequers in the Daily Telegraph with a series of sit down interviews with broadcasters in which he tore into Theresa May’s Brexit proposal
The ex foreign secretary (pictured today on a run in Oxfordshire) savaged the Chequers plan in an interview – warning it would be a ‘disaster’ for Britain’ and a ‘triumph’ for Brussels
Theresa May (pictured earlier this week) is facing a massive wave of pressure from her Tory backbenchers to ditch her Brexit plan. She will come face to face with Conservative activists this week for what is set to be an explosive party conference
In an explosive interview with Sky News tonight, Mr Johnson said that Chequers would leave the UK tied to the EU’s market and customs rules.
He added: ‘That means – basically – that we have failed in our duty to the people to take back control.
‘Indeed, we’ve lost control because we no longer have anyone around the table in Brussels. And that’s a disaster.
‘So what I’m trying to do today is to get the Prime Minister and the government back to that focus on a big, optimistic, generous free trade deal.’
He said that while Brussels is publicly scornful of the PM’s plan, he believes they could sign up to it as it is such a good deal for them.
Mr Johnson, who quit the Cabinet earlier this year in fury at Chequers, said: ‘My anxiety is that, you know, yes it’s true, formally speaking, that the EU has rejected Chequers.
‘And they will, because it breaks up their idea of the unity of the four freedoms and the coherence of the single market and all that but be careful, because actually it’s a great deal for them.
‘And I just want to make clear because I don’t think people quite get this – the Chequers deal, were it to be agreed with the EU, would be a political triumph for Brussels.
‘Because what it would show is that the United Kingdom, for all its power and might, for all the two trillion pound economy that we have, the fifth biggest economy in the world, that when it came to it, we were unable to reclaim economic and so those.’
In a separate interview with ITN, he said: ‘The Chequers proposals would be absolutely disastrous for this country, for how we’re seen abroad.
‘The point about the Chequers proposals mean the UK become a vassal state – a colony.
‘We are the first country in the history of this continent to accept foreign rule from Brussels but have no one around the table.
‘Politically and economically unacceptable.’
And in a chat with BBC News he said Mrs May is ‘remarkable’ – but refused to rule out challenging her for the leadership.
He said: ‘The Prime Minister will go on, as she as she said to us herself, and as she said to the country, she’s a remarkable person, she will go on for as long as she feels it necessary.
‘But the most important thing for me is to avert what I think would be a political and economic disaster for this country which is to agree to come out of the EU but still to be run by the EU, what is the point of that, what will we have done?
‘And I think there is still time for her to change course.’
His sit-down interviews came hours after his lengthy attack on Chequers in his weekly Daily Telegraph column hit news stands.
He used the piece of brand Chequers a ‘moral and intellectual humiliation’ and unveil his own six-point proposal for a ‘super-Canada’ style free trade deal.
He called for the first time for Mrs May to tear up the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, which was finally signed in December last year after months of painful negotiation.
Former Brexit minister Boris Johnson praised Boris Johnson’s intervention saying it is a pivotal contribution to the debate
Tory MP for Yeovil Marcus Fysh said Boris Johnson’s six-point plan for a ‘super Canada’ Brexit deal is the right way forward for Britain
He said the UK ‘stumbled and collapsed’ into the Northern Ireland backstop agreement, which he says is incompatible with his vision.
Mr Johnson said the Northern Ireland problem could be dealt with by checks carried out away from the border.
He set out his Canada-style Brexit blueprint which he said would ‘fulfil the instruction of the people’.
He claimed his alternative six-point ‘SuperCanada’ plan would make Britain ‘rich, strong and free’.
He called on Mrs May to negotiate the deal during a 21-month transition period which will follow Brexit on March 29.
She should rip up her backstop plan for Northern Ireland, he said, arguing that technology should be used to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
He said: ‘This is an opportunity for the UK to become more dynamic and more successful, and we should not be shy of saying that – and we should recognise that it is exactly this potential our EU partners seek to constrain.’
His call follows reports that some members of the Cabinet are moving towards a Canada-style agreement as an alternative to a ‘No Deal’ scenario.
The essay argues for a change in position following a rejection of Mrs May’s Chequers plan by European leaders.
In the ‘A Better Plan for Brexit’ text, he writes: ‘This is the moment to change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit.
‘We have the chance to get it right, and I am afraid that future generations will not lightly forgive us if we fail.’
In a veiled criticism, he also describes the decision to call a general election last year as a ‘serious strategic mistake’.
Turning on the negotiating team, he adds that there has been a ‘collapse of will’ by ministers and civil servants to deliver on the Referendum result.
He denounced the ‘pretty invertebrate performance’ of the British negotiating team, led by Olly Robbins, who Mrs May appointed.
Their ‘supine position’ on Brexit has given the EU the upper hand while the UK has ‘stumbled and collapsed’ into the Northern Irish backstop plan which could effectively lead to the province’s annexation by the EU.
Mr Johnson will attend a fringe event at the conference in Birmingham on Tuesday which is likely to overshadow preparations for Mrs May’s own speech on Wednesday.
Leading Eurosceptics lined up to heap praise on his 4,500-word Brexit manifesto.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker – who quit along with Mr Johnson in anger at the Chequers plan – said it is a ‘brilliant, pivotal’ intervention.
He told MailOnline: ‘Conservatives have spent too long negotiating amongst ourselves.
Theresa May (right) had a difficult time in Salzburg last week as EU leaders (left) brutally rejected her Chequers plan
‘Now, as we approach conference, we have a clear choice – hopeless failure with Chequers, or a hopeful future of renewal with the plan Boris has set out.
‘It’s time to commit to practical management of the border with Ireland and go forward with an advanced Free Trade Agreement.’
Tory MP Marcus Fysh said, ‘absolutely right Boris Johnson – this is the way forward’, and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said he was a ‘man with a plan’.
But other Tories tore into Mr Johnson over the remarks – saying his article suggests that he ‘does not care’ about the impact on people’s lives.
Leading Tory Remainer Nicky Morgan blasted Mr Johnson’s column, writing: ‘I said Boris had to decide if he was a politician or a journalist – he’s clearly made his decision but shame he didn’t research the link between agreeing a solution that keeps the Irish border frictionless and the chances of agreeing withdrawal terms.
‘Or does he just not care?’
Mrs May is facing huge pressure as she faces Conservative activists and MPs at the annual conference amid a major Tory revolt over her Brexit plans.