Boris Johnson is at it again. You can never trust him for he oscillates as the wind blows him, regardless of the loyalty expected from him. His appointment as Foreign Secretary by Teresa May showed great willingness on her part to unite the party in the hope that he will toe the line now that he has achieved perhaps the most important role in her cabinet. But his thirst to be top dog is so inherent in his make-up that it has become an incurable obsession which keeps surfacing at any given opportunity. His latest episode which is likely to inflame the Prime Minister is his backing behind a new group designed to put pressure on the government to deliver a ‘hard Brexit’.
In the latest sign of tensions between the Brexiteer ministers and No. 10, the Foreign Secretary will help the group to demand measures such as pulling the UK out of the single market. ‘Change Britain’, the name of the new group, is backed by an array of high-profile Brexiteers including former Tory leadership contender Michael Gove, Nigel Lawson and David Cameron’s former advisor Steve Hilton. The aim is to ensure that Mrs May does not go soft in her negotiations and opt for a form of ‘Brexiteer-Lite’ involving compromises over immigration controls in exchange for greater access to the Single Market.
In a video address to mark the campaign’s launch, Mr Johnson said: ‘Brexit means Brexit and that means delivering on the instructions and restoring UK control over our laws, borders, money and trade.’ Mr Johnson also called for: ‘leavers and remainers to seize the opportunities that the country now has to forge a positive and exciting new relationship not just with the EU but also with the rest of the world.’
Labour MP Gisella Stewart, who will chair the new group, also provocatively said that the Brexit vote was more significant than Mrs May becoming Prime Minister: ‘The referendum marked a more profound political change than a change of occupancy in Downing Street. It has forced us to acknowledge that people in large sections of the UK have lost faith in political parties and the Westminster elite,’ she said.
Teresa May’s action in trying to unite the Conservatives has truly misfired. Instead, she has boldened the Brexiteers to call the shots in the Cabinet and by so doing make the Prime Minister’s task almost untenable. She must not be put off by all this plotting to undermine her authority.
The vote to leave the EU was not overwhelming but rather marginal. Many who voted to leave will perhaps think again if given the chance. Brexit could only prove beneficial to the UK if negotiations to leave are not aggressively conducted as to infuriate our European partners and cause Britain unexpected reverberations.
Let’s hope the Prime Minister will not be deflected from her measured policy of achieving a sensible arrangement with the EU without rancour or immeasurable harm to our national interest.