The UK foreign minister Boris Johnson vision on Brexit, and the future of his country was considered as ‘backseat driving” by his own colleagues in government.
Ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May speech in Italy about Britain’s planned EU departure, Johnson published a 4,300-word newspaper article that exceeded beyond his ministerial brief and, in some cases, the approach set out by the government.
Interior minister Amber Rudd said it was “absolutely fine” for the foreign secretary to intervene publicly but that she did not want him managing the Brexit process.
“What we’ve got is Theresa May managing that process, she’s driving the car,” Rudd told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
Asked if Johnson was backseat driving, she replied: “Yes, you could call it backseat driving, absolutely.”
Johnson’s article re-ignited speculation that he would challenge May for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Rudd, however, said she did not think Johnson was laying the groundwork to challenge May.
“I think that he, like I, supports the prime minister at this difficult time as we try to conclude the negotiations with the EU,” she said.
May’s deputy, Damian Green, said also weighed in on Sunday, saying that Johnson had written a “very exuberant” article but it is “absolutely clear to everyone that the driver of the car in this instance is the prime minister”.
“It is the job of the rest of us in the Cabinet to agree on a set of proposals and get behind those proposals and get behind the prime minister,” Green told BBC TV.
Johnson had written in the Daily Telegraph that Britain would not pay to access European markets in the future. Once out of the EU, the country should borrow to invest in infrastructure, reform the tax code and set immigration levels as it sees reasonable.