Boris Johnson is “backseat driving” Brexit, Amber Rudd warned today as she tore into the Foreign Secretary for his intervention on the EU negotiations.
Johnson published a 4,000 word article setting out his vision for Brexit on Saturday, less than a week before Theresa May is due to give a keynote speech in Florence designed to get the stumbling negotiations back on track.
His intervention prompted fury from numerous Tories, with one former minister telling the Observer his behaviour was “disgraceful”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson – a long-standing critic of Johnson – tweeted ahead of the article’s publication that given the terrorist attack at Parsons Green “our only thoughts should be on service”.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, Rudd was asked whether she agreed with Davidson.
“I think she has a point, yes,” she replied.
Rudd described Johnson as an “irrepressible enthusiast” about Brexit, and referring to the article she said: “I think it’s absolutely fine. I would expect nothing less from Boris.”
Rudd and Johnson were on opposite sides of the referendum campaign, and during a televised debate ahead of the vote, the now-Home Secretary said while the former Mayor of London could be the life and soul of a party, “he isn’t the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.”
When asked by Marr what she meant by that comment, Rudd replied: “What I meant by that is I don’t want him managing the Brexit process. What we’ve got is Theresa May managing that process.
“She’s driving the car, to continue the allegory, and I’m going to make sure that as far as I’m concerned the rest of the Cabinet we help her do that. This is a difficult moment.”
When asked if she felt Johnson was trying to backseat drive the Brexit talks, Rudd said: “You could call it backseat driving, absolutely.
“I’m very clear that the Cabinet and government supports Theresa May. It’s a difficult moment to make sure we get the best result for the United Kingdom, but I’m sure we can.”
A spokesperson for Johnson said: “The Prime Minister is leading the Brexit negotiations and Boris is fully behind her in getting the best deal.”