British PM’s Brexit plan a ‘suicide vest’, says ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson

Access to the comments Comments
By Alice Cuddy  with Reuters
British PM’s Brexit plan a ‘suicide vest’, says ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson
Copyright  Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy puts the UK constitution in a “suicide vest” and hands the “detonator” to Brussels, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in comments that drew strong criticism on Sunday.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson described May’s so-called Chequers plan as “a humiliation” that opens “ourselves to perpetual political blackmail”.

“We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to [the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator] Michel Barnier,” he wrote.

Johnson, who is the favorite to succeed May, is leading a push by eurosceptic lawmakers for the government to “chuck Chequers” and pursue a clean break with the bloc.

In July, he resigned from his post as foreign secretary over the plan, named after May’s country residence where the government agreed proposals to maintain close trade ties with the EU

"At every stage of the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants," Johnson wrote.

"It is a humiliation. We look like a seven-stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla."

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

“This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics. I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson,” Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan wrote on Twitter.

Fellow Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt tweeted: "I'm stunned at the nature of this attack. There is no justification for such an outrageous, inappropriate and hurtful analogy."

However, some defended Johnson’s remarks.

Backbench Tory MP Nadine Dorries said Johnson’s critics were “terrified of his popular appeal”.