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by Matt Foster
01 October 2018
Ruth Davidson mocks Boris Johnson over Brexit claims

Image credit: David Anderson

Ruth Davidson mocks Boris Johnson over Brexit claims

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has mocked Boris Johnson over his claims that Downing Street misled him over its plans to avoid a hard Irish border.

Johnson used an interview ahead of the Tory conference in Birmingham to take a fresh swipe at the Prime Minister's "demented" Brexit strategy as well as her domestic agenda.

He also talked up his own pro-Brexit credentials, saying: "Unlike the Prime Minister I fought for this, I believe in it, I think it’s the right thing for our country and I think that what is happening now is, alas, not what people were promised in 2016."

The former foreign secretary suggested he was tricked into supporting the deal Theresa May struck with the EU last December, which included a guarantee that the seamless border between the Republic and Northern Ireland would be maintained in any eventuality.

Bu Davidson hit out at Johnson, pointing out that he had welcomed that agreement at the time.

She told told Sky News' Sophy Ridge: "What I think is strange about some of the attacks that are in the newspapers today is this is someone who was praising what the Prime Minister brought home in terms of moving on to the next stage last December, someone who was in one of the great offices of state, who was sitting round the Cabinet table who now says that he was in some way deceived."

The Scottish Tory leader added: "Now, I don't sit around the Cabinet table, I'm not in government... but I knew what was being said in December. I'm not quite sure how the former Foreign Secretary didn't."

Davidson also said Johnson had also failed to mention his two-year stint in government in his latest interview.

"I think that what's interesting in today's coverage is he seems to be spending an awful lot of time talking about his London mayorship and very little time - in fact he's not even mentioned the fact he was foreign secretary for two years and was in the room helping to influence this and indeed was praising as soon ago as December," she said.

Johnson on Friday set out his own 4,600-word vision of Brexit - and is likely to steal the spotlight when he addresses a Conservative conference fringe event on Tuesday night.

During his interview he refused to say that May should lead the Tories into the next general election, telling the paper she should stay "for as long as her party wants her".

And he took aim at Theresa May's response to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He said: "I think we need to make the case for markets. I don’t think we should caper insincerely on socialist territory. You can’t beat Corbyn by becoming Corbyn."

But David Davis, the ex-Brexit Secretary who resigned hours before Johnson quit the Cabinet, dealt his former colleague a fresh blow this morning as he mocked Johnson's domestic pitch.

He told Sky News: "Boris is a great mate of mine. You know, we have a very knockabout friendship, but... quite a lot of his ideas are good headlines, not necessarily good policies."

Davis also out at the Uxbridge MP's plans to scrap the HS2 rail project and build a new bridge to Northern Ireland, saying: "I think one of the blights of British politics is politicians having fantastic ideas that cost a fortune and don't do much good - and that will be one of them. If you're going to use the money use it for broadband or something else."

In a boost for Theresa May, the ex-Brexit secretary meanwhile said he would vote to shore up the Prime Minister if rebellious Tory MPs managed to trigger a vote of confidence in the PM.

Under Tory rules, 48 MPs would have to submit letters of no confidence to kick off a ballot on May's leadership.

Asked how he would cast his ballot in such an event, Davis replied: "To keep her in."

He added: "I want a change of policy not a change of leader. And where I differ from Boris, who is front page of the papers this morning is, you know, he's conflating the two.

"I think this is such an important issue. We must keep it away from internal Tory party battles and from leadership issues."

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