Philip Hammond has launched a vociferous attack on Boris Johnson, as Tory splits over Brexit dominate the party’s conference in Birmingham.
The chancellor used an interview in the Daily Mail to say the former foreign secretary would never be prime minister.
On Monday morning, speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Hammond reiterated his dismissal of Johnson and his ability to understand the Brexit process.
“Boris Johnson is a big picture man, a big character on the political stage, and this is a very detailed and complex negotiation,” he said.
“It doesn’t require big, sweeping statements, it requires meticulous attention to the negotiating strategy.”
Johnson had used a Sunday Times interview to describe Theresa May’s Brexit policy as “deranged” and “preposterous”.
The prime minister’s conference, which began on Sunday, has already been overshadowed by talk of who might run to succeed her – with Johnson seen as highly likely to run in any contest. He is due to address Tory activists at a rally tomorrow afternoon.
Several senior Conservatives, including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, have already hit back at Johnson for his attack on May’s Brexit plan.
Javid, who is seen as a likely leadership candidate himself, told HuffPost UK he would serve in a Johnson cabinet.
But he warned the party not to embrace “naked populism” and “not base policy on raw emotion” rather than evidence.
Close allies of Johnson issued an ominous warning to May to ditch her Chequers compromise plan or face serious backbench unrest.
Conor Burns, Johnson’s former Parliamentary aide, issued what appeared to be a veiled threat saying the PM could “change” if she didn’t budge on the policy.
Leading backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg called for a “red-blooded, Conservative approach”. The Chequers plan was now “not only a dead duck in a thunderstorm, it is the deadest of dying ducks”, he said.
In his interview with the Daily Mail, Hammond was asked whether Johnson could become prime minister. The chancellor said “I don’t expect it to happen”.
He also suggested Johnson could not do “grown-up politics”.
And he said his former cabinet colleague had “no grasp of detail” on complex subjects and that his greatest achievement to date had been introducing the “Boris Bike” cycle scheme while London mayor.