British former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was criticized Sunday following comments he wrote in a British newspaper that referred to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy as a “suicide vest.”
“We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail,” he writes. “We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to [EU Brexit negotiator] Michel Barnier,” Johnson wrote.
In the article published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Johnson wrote that instead of striking a “giant and generous free trade deal,” May says “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” to the European Union.
Johnson, one of the leading figureheads of the winning campaign to leave the EU, scheduled to happen in March 2019, is said to be poised to launch a leadership bid against May.
He resigned from May’s Cabinet in protest at May’s plans for a post-Brexit trading arrangement with the other 27 members of the bloc, known as the “Chequers” deal, because he believes it would mean the UK abiding by EU laws with no role in the decision-making process.
However, Johnson’s image and popularity with the right wing of the Conservative Party has been tarnished by last week’s news he and his wife Marina Wheeler, the mother of his four children, are divorcing amid media reports the 54-year-old had an extra-marital affair.
A number of Conservative MPs took to Twitter to criticize Johnson for his attempts to grab headlines with “explosive” comments.
“For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much, ” wrote Foreign Office Minister and Conservative MP, Alan Duncan.
“This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics. I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later.”
“Boris Johnson’s ‘suicide vest’ comments reek of desperation, ego, and ugly ambition,” tweeted opposition Labour MP David Lammy.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This pound-shop Donald Trump has no principles, and he would throw any ally under the bus to further the leadership ambitions he’s harbored since Eton,” Lammy said, referring to Johnson’s education at the prestigious school.
A Brexit deal needs to be struck in the remainder of the year between the UK and the EU that ties up all the loose ends after Britain walks away from 45 years of membership.
In addition, the groundwork needs to be laid in defining what the future trading relationship will look like.
Difficult issues remain to be resolved, including the EU’s insistence on a different status for Northern Ireland, keeping it more closely tied to the EU than the rest of the UK so as to avoid the imposition of a north-south border on the island.
If the UK is unable to reach a deal with Brussels, then the UK could simply crash out of the EU, its largest trading partner by far, with no customs arrangements in place.