May wraps 'suicide vest' around UK over Brexit, says Johnson

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal wraps “a suicide vest around the British constitution” and hands the detonator to the European Union, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in comments that drew strong criticism. In an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson pressed his attack on May’s so-called Chequers plan to leave the EU, calling it “a humiliation” that opens “ourselves to perpetual political blackmail”. May is under fire from all sides of the divisive Brexit debate, with Johnson, favourite to succeed her, leading a push by eurosceptic MPs for the government to “chuck Chequers” and pursue a clean break with the bloc. Related CoverageChequers plan is only deal on the table with EU – JavidBritain must focus on moving ahead with May's Brexit plan – BrokenshireBut so far, May has signalled she will not drop her blueprint for Britain’s future ties with the bloc after Brexit – the biggest shift in the country’s foreign and trade policy for almost half a century. “We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to (EU chief negotiator) Michel Barnier,” Johnson wrote. His words – particularly the reference to a suicide vest – drew condemnation from fellow members of the governing Conservative Party. Alan Duncan, a minister at the Foreign Office, said Johnson’s comments marked “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”. “For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much,” he said on Twitter. “I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later.” “NOT NEWS” Johnson resigned as foreign secretary over the Chequers plan, named after May’s country residence where the government agreed proposals to maintain close trade ties with the EU in July, and has attacked it as making Britain “a vassal state”. The prime minister’s plans have also been criticised by EU supporters for offering the “worst of all worlds”. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said her organisation would back a second vote on Brexit if May failed to win a deal that supported workers. But two ministers batted away Johnson’s appeal for Britain to drop Chequers and negotiate a Canada-style trade deal instead, saying such an agreement would not solve the problem of a new border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. “It is not news that he has a difference of opinion with the prime minister and that’s why he left government,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences.” Housing minister James Brokenshire urged Conservatives to move forward with the Chequers plan, which May has failed so far to win backing from her party, Britain’s parliament and also EU negotiators. Many of Johnson’s supporters hope his increasingly vocal criticism of May signals that he will launch a leadership bid while other Conservatives suggest his Mail article was solely to distract attention away from his marital difficulties. 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Piper”,”journalist_url”:”/journalists/elizabeth-piper”}],”shareUrl”:”https://reut.rs/2NvHMHA”,”published”:1536487093,”updated”:1536488620,”path”:”/article/uk-britain-eu-johnson/may-wraps-suicide-vest-around-uk-over-brexit-says-johnson-idUSKCN1LP06W”,”location”:”LONDON”,”body”:”u003cpu003eBy Elizabeth Piperu003c/pu003enu003cpu003eLONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa Mayu0027s Brexit deal wraps “a suicide vest around the British constitution” and hands the detonator to the European Union, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in comments that drew strong criticism.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eIn an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson pressed his attack on Mayu0027s so-called Chequers plan to leave the EU, calling it “a humiliation” that opens “ourselves to perpetual political blackmail”.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eMay is under fire from all sides of the divisive Brexit debate, with Johnson, favourite to succeed her, leading a push by eurosceptic MPs for the government to “chuck Chequers” and pursue a clean break with the bloc. u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eBut so far, May has signalled she will not drop her blueprint for Britainu0027s future ties with the bloc after Brexit – the biggest shift in the countryu0027s foreign and trade policy for almost half a century. u003c/pu003enu003cpu003e”We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to (EU chief negotiator) Michel Barnier,” Johnson wrote.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eHis words – particularly the reference to a suicide vest – drew condemnation from fellow members of the governing Conservative Party. u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eAlan Duncan, a minister at the Foreign Office, said Johnsonu0027s comments marked “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003e”For Boris to say that the PMu0027s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much,” he said on Twitter. “Iu0027m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isnu0027t now, I will make sure it is later.”u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eu003c/pu003enu003cpu003e”NOT NEWS”u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eJohnson resigned as foreign secretary over the Chequers plan, named after Mayu0027s country residence where the government agreed proposals to maintain close trade ties with the EU in July, and has attacked it as making Britain “a vassal state”.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eThe prime ministeru0027s plans have also been criticised by EU supporters for offering the “worst of all worlds”.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eFrances Ou0027Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said her organisation would back a second vote on Brexit if May failed to win a deal that supported workers.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eBut two ministers batted away Johnsonu0027s appeal for Britain to drop Chequers and negotiate a Canada-style trade deal instead, saying such an agreement would not solve the problem of a new border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003e”It is not news that he has a difference of opinion with the prime minister and thatu0027s why he left government,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBCu0027s Andrew Marr show. “I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences.”u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eHousing minister James Brokenshire urged Conservatives to move forward with the Chequers plan, which May has failed so far to win backing from her party, Britainu0027s parliament and also EU negotiators.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eMany of Johnsonu0027s supporters hope his increasingly vocal criticism of May signals that he will launch a leadership bid while other Conservatives suggest his Mail article was solely to distract attention away from his marital difficulties.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eOn Friday, Johnson said he had separated from his wife Marina Wheeler and that the couple would divorce.u003c/pu003enu003cpu003eu003c/pu003en”,”attribution”:{“type”:”default”,”content”:”Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky”},”images”:[{“url”:”//s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d2u0026iu003d1302479742u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE880BD”,”title”:”Britainu0027s former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson watches the England cricket team play India at The Oval cricket ground in London”,”caption”:”Britainu0027s former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson watches the England cricket team play India at The Oval cricket ground in London, Britain, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Childs”},{“url”:”//s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d2u0026iu003d1302479743u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE880BE”,”title”:”England v India – Fifth Test”,”caption”:”Cricket – England v India – Fifth Test – Kia Oval, London, Britain – September 8, 2018 Boris Johnson in the stands Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs”},{“url”:”//s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d2u0026iu003d1302479746u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE880BG”,”title”:”England v India – Fifth Test”,”caption”:”Cricket – England v India – Fifth Test – Kia Oval, London, Britain – September 8, 2018 Boris Johnson in the stands Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs”},{“url”:”//s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d2u0026iu003d1302479744u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE880BF”,”title”:”England v India – Fifth Test”,”caption”:”Cricket – England v India – Fifth Test – Kia Oval, London, Britain – September 8, 2018 Boris Johnson in the stands Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs”}],”relatedStories”:[{“id”:”USKCN1LP06U”,”updated”:1536486850,”headline”:”Chequers plan is only deal on the table with EU – Javid”,”path”:”/article/uk-britain-eu-javid/chequers-plan-is-only-deal-on-the-table-with-eu-javid-idUSKCN1LP06U”,”image”:”//s3.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d1u0026iu003d1302472720u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE8808L”},{“id”:”USKCN1LP07R”,”updated”:1536486850,”headline”:”Britain must focus on moving ahead with Mayu0027s Brexit plan – Brokenshire”,”path”:”/article/uk-britain-eu-brokenshire/britain-must-focus-on-moving-ahead-with-mays-brexit-plan-brokenshire-idUSKCN1LP07R”,”image”:”//s4.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?mu003d02u0026du003d20180909u0026tu003d1u0026iu003d1302472723u0026ru003dLYNXNPEE8808Y”}],”description”:”Prime Minister Theresa Mayu0027s Brexit deal wraps “a suicide vest around the British constitution” and hands the detonator to the European Union, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in comments that drew strong criticism.u003c”,”dart_zone”:”us.reuters/world/article”,”link_to_parent”:false,”show_others_in_parent”:false,”canvas_enable”:false},”translations”:{“shared”:{“disclaimer”:”Disclaimer”,”sponsored_content”:”Sponsored”,”related_coverage”:”Related Coverage”,”sponsored_topics”:”Sponsored”,”sponsored_stories”:”Sponsored”,”updated”:”Updated []”,”slideshow”:”Slideshow”,”featured”:”Featured”,”edition”:”Edition”,”trending”:”Trending”,”advertisement”:”Advertisement”,”visit_now”:”Visit Now”,”show_full_article”:”Show Full Article”,”breaking_news”:”Breaking News”,”live_update”:”Live Update”,”the_wire”:”The Wire”,”image_count”:”[] Images”,”sections”:”Sections”,”get_the_app_banner_top”:”Better questions. 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