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.’
Blow May as polls reveal activists want her out by the next election
Theresa May is facing a massive blow to her authority as a poll out today finds that 80 per cent of Tory activists want her gone before the next election.
Theresa May is facing a massive blow to her authority as a poll out today finds that 80 per cent of Tory members want her gone before the next election.
Meanwhile, another survey found that 60 per cent of global investors do not think a Brexit deal will be done by the November deadline.
They heap yet more pressure on the beleaguered PM on the eve of her party conference as tensions rage in her party over her Brexit plans.
The Prime Minister is facing a massive Tory revolt at home over her under-fire Brexit blueprint while EU leaders have poured scorn on it abroad.
She is in a race against time to get a deal done by November – seen as the latest date when a deal can be done and ratified in time for Britain’s departure next March.
Mrs May has repeatedly insisted that she is in her job for the long haul and will fight the next election.
But her election campaign last summer was branded by Tories the worst in the party’s history, and many MPs fear they will lose their seats if she leads the party when the nation next goes to the polls.
The Tory website ConHome has found that the vast majority of activists want Mrs May gone from the top job by the time they have to fight the next election.
The survey found that 35 per cent of those surveyed think she should quit as Tory leader now, and 45 per cent say she should go before the nation goes to the polls again in 2022.
And in a fresh blow today, a poll by Reuters found that most of the 54 wealth managers and chief investment officers they surveyed think the deadline will be missed.
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’.
Ex Cabinet Minister Prito Patel urges May to get more radical
A former Cabinet minister has urged Theresa May to get more radical on the eve of a crunch Tory Party conference this week.
Priti Patel urged the PM to cut taxes and red tape on business, saying a ‘clear Conservative vision’ was needed to tackle Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-Left agenda.
Her intervention will be seen as part of a move by a disaffected Tory MPs to pile pressure on Mrs May to do more to boost business.
Miss Patel told The House magazine ‘Gone are the days of flagship policies giving millions the chance to own their own home, start their own business, become share owners, and offer choice in public services.
‘Now we are showcasing taxes on coffee cups.’
Ex education minister Robert Halfon also piled in and said the Government needs to come up with a vision which attracts working class voters.
He said: ‘The Corbyn description of what is going on resonates with millions of people.
‘Deep social and economic problems remain.
‘We are stuck in the political rhetoric of the past, rather than providing a proper Tory vision for the future.’
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.
How does Theresa May’s Chequers deal compare with a Canada-style free trade deal?
Britain would stick to EU rules on goods by adopting a ‘Common rulebook’ with Brussels, but in the services sector.
Theresa May says this would allow the UK strike free trade deals globally, but the scope would be limited by commitments to the EU.
The blueprint should minimise the need for extra checks at the borders – protecting the ‘just in time’ systems used by the car industry to import and export parts.
The UK Parliament could choose to diverge from these EU rules over time.
But there is an admission that this would ‘have consequences’.
Britain would set up something called a Facilitated Customs Arrangement.
This would see the UK effectively act as the EU’s taxman – using British officials to collect customs which would then be paid on to the bloc.
The borders between the UK and EU will be treated as a ‘combined customs territory’.
The UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, but charge EU tariffs and their equivalents for goods which will end up heading into the EU.
Mrs May says her plan will prevent a hard Irish border, and mean no divergence between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
There would be no need for extra border checks, as tariffs on goods would be the same.
Single market origin rules and regulations would also be sufficiently aligned to avoid infrastructure.
Britain would strike a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU, meaning goods can flow both ways without tariffs.
As it is a simple free trade deal, Britain would not be bound by the rules and red tape drawn up in Brussels.
The arrangement would be a relatively clean break from the EU – but would fall far short of full access to the single market.
Eurosceptics have suggested ‘Canada plus’ in key areas such as services and mutual recognition of standards.
The UK would have broad scope to strike free trade deals around the world.
Technology would be used to avoid extra customs checks on the borders.
As a result goods travelling into the UK from the EU and vice versa would be tracked and customs paid without extra checks.
The EU has suggested this is ‘magical thinking’.
The EU says the Canada model would mean border controls are required between Northern Ireland and the Republic to protect the single market and customs union.
It insists Northern Ireland must stay in the bloc’s customs jurisdiction in order to prevent that.
Mrs May has signalled she agrees with the analysis – seemingly the reason she is reluctant to go down this route.
But Brexiteers point out that there is already a tax border between the UK and Ireland, and say technology and trusted trader schemes can avoid the need for more infrastructure.