Boris Johnson has ruled out sharing a platform with Nigel Farage as the former Ukip leader tours the country to fight against the government’s plan for Brexit.
HuffPost UK has been told the former foreign secretary will not join forces with the MEP, despite both being opposed to Theresa May’s negotiating stance with Brussels.
Farage announced over the weekend he would join a battle bus tour organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign group, as he feels May’s Chequers agreement “is nothing less than a direct betrayal of everything people voted for.”
The Chequers plan will leave the UK tied to EU rules on goods and agri-foods, without having any influence on those laws as part of a ‘common rulebook’ arrangement.
Johnson, who quit the cabinet in protest at the policy, is being urged by some Tory colleagues to also hit the road – although he has ruled out replicating his 2016 referendum campaign bus tour.
Asked by HuffPost if the former London Mayor would take part in any events with Farage, a source close to Johnson said: “No.”
Johnson and Farage were involved in rival anti-EU campaigns in the lead up to the 2016 referendum, with the Tory MP one of the frontmen of the official Vote Leave campaign, and the Ukip MEP supporting Leave.EU and the Grassroots Out.
The announcement by Farage that he would be returning to his grassroots campaigning tactics have not been welcomed by all Brexiteers.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant told HuffPost he let out a “sigh of exasperation” when he heard the news, adding: “I think it’s the right move for Nigel Farage, but not the right move for Brexit.
“I give Nigel Farage credit for getting the whole referendum rolling in the first place, but I don’t think anything good for us Brexiteers will come of his involvement now.”
Middlesborough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke also questioned the need for another campaign, saying: “This is a now a matter for Parliament to solve.”
Clarke dramatically withdrew a letter calling for a vote of no confidence in May just days before Parliament broke up for the summer recess, but is still unhappy with the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan.
“There are many of us in the Conservative party who are absolutely determined that we will deliver a proper Brexit,” he said, adding: “Parliament needs to stand up and be counted.”
But not all Tory Brexiteers were opposed to sharing a platform with Farage to protest against the government’s negotiating position.
Andrea Jenkyns, who quit her role as a ministerial aide earlier this year so she could “fight for Brexit”, said she would campaign alongside Farage – as long as others in her party followed suit.
She added: “I look back to the times when during the referendum campaign there was a lot of cross-party working going on. I can’t see any problem working cross-party. Yes, Nigel Farage is marmite, but you can’t deny we probably wouldn’t have got a referendum without him.”
Jenkyns also urged Johnson to take to the streets to fire up activists in opposition to the Chequers agreement.
“I would love to see him (Boris) go on the road myself,” she said, adding: “We have had a number of emails saying ‘Boris for leader’.
“Boris will give people a lot of confidence that there are people who are still fighting for Brexit.”