Boris Johnson challenges Theresa May to fire him over her Brexit plans

Brexit: Boris Johnson challenges Theresa May to sack him for calling customs plan ‘crazy’

No 10 says more work is needed on proposals

Boris Johnson has challenged Theresa May to sack him by indicating that he has no intention of quitting despite saying that her favoured plan for post-Brexit customs is “crazy”.

Downing Street tried to side-step the confrontation with the foreign secretary after he said that her plans for a customs partnership would create a “whole new web of bureaucracy”. Friends of Mr Johnson said that he would not resign.

No 10 said that Theresa May continued to have full confidence in Mr Johnson but declined to say whether she had spoken privately with him about his comments.

The foreign secretary returned from his recent visit to the US, which included an appearance on the conservative TV show Fox and Friends, to face Theresa May at the cabinet table yesterday. He no doubt had to explain comments he made to the Daily Mail, in which he characterized the customs partnership as “a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier.”

It follows a period of open discontent on social media from Tory ‘remain’ backbenchers – such as Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill – towards hardline Brexiteers. Soames told Jacob Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group (ERG) on Twitter to stop holding Theresa May and the “pragmatic centre” to “ransom” over their demands for the Britain’s Brexit plans.

Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, said that a period of silence from Rees-Mogg would be welcomed by “us in the loyal mainstream.”

Dominic Grieve MP, an ardent Tory ‘remainer,’ told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that Johnson’s comments regarding the customs partnership were “regrettable,” but that he could understand why the prime minister was putting up with such “outbursts” from the foreign secretary.

The MP for Beaconsfield said “I don’t think he is in any way inhibited by normal propriety in government. I can well understand that seeing the difficult issues that we are having to confront, which are very divisive, the prime minister should accept these rather extraordinary bursts of misbehaviour by Boris.”

Theresa May, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Business Secretary Greg Clark, and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley are said to back the PM’s customs partnership plan. However, May looks to have a major job on her hands establishing a united cabinet front – especially in light of ‘remainer’ Amber Rudd’s resignation – and convincing ministers like Johnson, Javid, Williamson, and Gove of her preferred option.

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