A close ally of Angela Merkel has called on Theresa May to “sack Boris Johnson” to allow the EU and UK to make progress on Brexit talks.
As the European Parliament voted to delay negotiations on any future trade deal, German MEP Manfred Weber said that the Foreign Secretary’s outbursts were making it difficult to work out the British position.
Weber, the German leader of the European people’s party and a key member of Merkel’s CDU party, told MEPs that the PM should remove Johnson from his post to provide greater certainty.
“The question for the moment is who shall I call in London [on Brexit]? Who speaks for the British government – Theresa May, Boris Johnson, or even David Davis?” he said.
“By reading Johnson’s attacks against his own Prime Minister he shows the British government is trapped by their own party quarrels and political contradictions …
“Please sack Johnson because we will have clear answers as to who is responsible for the British position.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox became the latest Cabinet minister to reveal his frustration with Johnson’s interventions, telling BBC Radio 4 “it’s easier if we are all on a very strict script.”
But Fox rounded on Brussels for failing to make progress on future talks, saying the EU was “very obsessed about money” in demanding any Brexit bill be sorted before a EU-UK trade deal could be discussed.
He also admitted that the UK would suffer from a “no deal” Brexit. “I think that would be damaging for the whole of Europe, not just for the EU, for the UK as well.
“But I want us to make it very clear that we seek an agreement but not at any price.”
Fox also told Radio 4’s World at One programme that the UK would have “no alternative but to walk away” if there was no deal agreed by March 2019.
But he stressed that he didn’t agree with “those in the UK who don’t want a deal”. “The sensible ground is to say we are leaving and it’s best to go for a managed exit rather than a chaotic exit.”
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Weber was withering about the Tory divisions on Brexit.
“First Florence, and then Manchester. We listen to a lot of speeches but the substance is different. London is very creative at putting red lines on the table for pleasing their party supporters but they fail to have any solution for the voters and citizens.
“I fully agree with Theresa May on at least one single point she said [in her Florence speech last month]. We can do so much better than this. Theresa May. Please don’t put your party first, put please Britain first. Put, please, the citizens first and please no more speeches. Show leadership on content.”