Cabinet ministers criticise Boris Johnson over Brexit deal ‘suicide vest’ comparison
In a newspaper column Boris Johnson said the UK had “wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier”
Boris Johnson - Image credit: PA/PA Wire/PA Images
Senior Cabinet figures have rebuked Boris Johnson after the former foreign secretary claimed that Theresa May’s Brexit deal had left the UK strapped to a "suicide vest".
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary James Brokenshire both condemned the language, saying it struck the wrong tone.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Johnson said talks so far had shown "Brussels gets what Brussels wants", while hitting out at the "humiliation" of the Prime Minister's Chequers deal and blasting the EU's Irish border stance.
"We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier," he wrote.
"We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose – at any time – to crack apart the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if he believed the language was acceptable, Javid replied: “I think there are much better ways to articulate your differences.
“It’s a reminder for all of us in public policy, whichever party we represent, to use measured language because I think that’s what the public want to see.”
Speaking on Sky’s Ridge on Sunday, Brokenshire echoed his Cabinet colleague’s remarks, saying: “I think he is wrong on this.
“I think the tone that he has used isn’t right and I think that we just need to be very focused on actually moving forward with the Chequers plan.”
Johnson’s comments sparked an immediate backlash on social media from other senior Tories, with Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan branding the comparison “one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics”.
Meanwhile Tory chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and former soldier Tom Tugendhat suggested Johnson should "grow up".
Liberal Democrat MP and supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign Layla Moran said Johnson’s “crass” comments showed he was unfit for high office.
“Boris knows the impact of his words, having dealt with the impact of terrorism both as mayor and foreign secretary, so the idea that he can write them beggars’ belief,” she said.
“Boris has always styled himself as a classicist – harking back to the days of the Roman Senate.
“But Boris is less like Cicero and more like Jabba the Hutt.”
If MPs back the deal next week, the UK will have a further delay until 22 May
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Under the proposals to help Britain cope with a no-deal Brexit, 87 per cent of all imports to Britain by value will be eligible for zero-tariff access
The Commons voted 391 to 242 against the re-worked withdrawal agreement, despite warnings that doing so could put Brexit at risk