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Foreign Secretary Johnson breaks ranks with May over Brexit

19 September 2017

The letter from Sir David Norgrove, the head of the authority, said he was "surprised and disappointed" at the claim resurfacing.

Senior Conservatives have denounced Theresa May as "too weak" to unite her cabinet and run an effective government after she refused to sack her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, for breaking ranks over Brexit.

"Mr Johnson then penned his own letter, which claimed the statistics boss had privately conceded he was "more concerned" by the headlines in the coverage" of the controversial article and "accepted that I was not responsible for those".

Asked if he viewed himself as "Theresa May's Willie", a reference to Margaret Thatcher's remarks about her reliance on deputy Willie Whitelaw, he replied: "I was a huge admirer of Willie Whitelaw in my youth and absolutely I would be very content to have him as a role model". I suggest if the BBC coverage offends you that you write to the BBC.

"This is a complete misrepresentation of what I said and I would like you to withdraw it".

He wrote: "Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week. It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS".

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"The only number that matters to me is the difference between 48 and the 52".

The secretary of Interior Amber Rudd, supported in your day of stay in European Union, publicly accused Johnson of wanting to direct Brexit "from back seat".

Johnson argued against paying for continued access to Europe's single market - a possibility other ministers have left open.

When asked about Mr Johnson's article, Mrs May said: "Boris is Boris".

It has prompted claims in the Mail on Sunday that allies of the PM believed the move was "hostile" and "attention seeking".

While it seems that the majority of May's cabinet has resigned to the fact that there needs to be a transition period between the Brexit date (March 2019) and a new deal on the future UK-EU relationship, and that a hard Brexit is difficult to carry out, Johnson has insisted on keeping a hard line.

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Craig Oliver, David Cameron's Former Director of Communications, has told LBC it appears the Foreign Secretary still harbours leadership ambitions.

Reacting to the furore his article had generated, Mr Johnson tweeted on Saturday: "Looking forward to PM's Florence Speech".

"All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit", he added.

However, in his article, Mr Johnson suggested strongly that he was opposed to paying any money to the European Union during a transition period, writing: "We would not expect to pay for access to their markets any more than they would expect to pay for access to ours".

The Government should "seize the opportunity" of Brexit to reform the United Kingdom tax system to boost investment, he suggested.

Last month, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier also warned that Britain would be forced to leave Europol and that the EU-UK split would weaken British security and counter-terrorism.

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