Theresa May’s deputy Damian Green slaps down Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister’s deputy today slapped down Boris Johnson for making David Davis’s job harder by launching a series of mischievous Brexit interventions.

The Foreign Secretary has plunged the start of the Tory Party conference into turmoil by using an interview to set out his four ‘red lines’ on the Brexit talks. 

It has raised fresh questions over Theresa May’s leadership just as she was hoping to get her premiership back on track with her crunch conference speech.

But senior Cabinet members rounded on their outspoken colleague in a series of interventions today.

Damian Green hit out at Mr Johnson by saying he would not rule anything ‘in or out’ of the deal because it would make the job of the Brexit Secretary tougher.

While Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that no Government minister in unsackable in a jibe aimed at the Foreign Secretary.

Theresa May’s deputy Damian Green, pictured at Tory Party conference today, said it is unhelpful to rule things in or out of Brexit negotiations 

Mr Green, the First Secretary of State and the PM’s de facto deputy, slapped down the Foreign Secretary’s intervention.

Speaking at a Tory conference fringe event today, Mr Green refused to rule out paying for single market access after the Brexit transition period – contradicting Mr Johnson’s red lines. 

He said: ‘I’m not ruling anything in or out that will be in the detail of the negotiation because David Davis has got a difficult job and he is eminently suited to doing it.

‘I’m not going to do anything that makes his job more difficult.’

Brexir Minister Steve Baker issued a further jibe at Mr Johnson at a conference fringe, insisting he would not be wading into the ‘unfortunately public debate’ about the nature of a transitional deal.  

Mrs May refused to answer a question about whether Mr Johnson, pictured running in Manchester today, was 'unsackable'

Mrs May refused to answer a question about whether Mr Johnson, pictured running in Manchester today, was ‘unsackable’

Philip Hammond, pictured today with Theresa May in Manchester, warned Boris Johnson that nobody is unsackable from the Cabinet

Philip Hammond, pictured today with Theresa May in Manchester, warned Boris Johnson that nobody is unsackable from the Cabinet


A return to the ‘cod wars’ over fishing grounds would signal a failure of Brexit talks, a minister warned today. 

Steve Baker gave a rare signal of what failure would look like in a meeting on the fringe of the Conservative conference in Manchester. 

The leading Brexit supporter said he believed a deal would be struck on fishing. 

But pressed on the prospects of a return to fishing disputes dubbed the ‘cod wars’ between 1958 and 1976. 

Mr Baker told activists: ‘We do not want to be having cod wars. If it comes to cod wars, things have failed.’ 

Asked what an appraisal of Mr Johnson’s ministerial performance might say, Mr Green said: ‘Boris is doing what Boris has always done – adding to the gaiety of nations.’ 

And he said the transition deal could last a few months longer than two years, flouting another of the Foreign Secretary’s demands. 

He added: ‘The phrase the Prime Minister used was ‘around two years’ but that means a few months either way.’

He added that could mean ‘instead of the end of March it’s the end of June’ 2021 and the Government was not committing to two years ‘to the minute’. 

While Mr Hammond stressed the need for loyalty to the Prime Minister and warned that everybody must ‘pull their weight withing the Government’,

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We all serve at the Prime Minister’s pleasure and we all owe the Prime Minister our allegiance and our loyalty within the Cabinet.

‘I have always operated on the principle that it is probably best to believe that nobody is unsackable.

‘Everybody has got to pull their weight within the Government.’ 

Mr Green also played down the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal – dismissing bleak talk coming out of Brussels is just posturing.

He said: ‘If you study European negotiations, they follow the same pattern where there’s a lot of posturing, a lot of people saying a deal is completely impossible, and then at the last minute a deal is done.

‘It is overwhelmingly almost always the case in the EU that a deal is done.’

Trade talks with other countries would be able to take place during the implementation period, but deals could not be signed until it expired, he suggested.

And he reiterated the Government’s commitment to freeing the UK from the control of EU judges.

The role of the European Court of Justice is a potential stumbling block in the Brexit talks, and Mr Green stressed that there ‘won’t be direct control’ by the Luxembourg court in the way there is now.

But there would need to be a ‘dispute resolution procedure’ governing the deal, which he suggested could involve a panel made up of British and EU judges.