LONDON (Reuters) – Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said he supports Prime Minister Theresa May and his opposition was not to her but to her proposals for exiting the European Union, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.
Following a week in which reports surfaced of a plot by Johnson’s fellow eurosceptic colleagues to oust May, Johnson, bookmakers’ favourite to succeed her, was quoted as saying he wanted her Chequers Brexit plan dropped, not her.
“It’s not about the leadership. It’s about the policy. It’s not about changing prime minister. It’s about chucking Chequers,” he is reported to have told the newspaper at an event in Washington D.C. in the United States.
Johnson quit as foreign secretary in July after May’s Chequers proposal, named after a country house where it was put forward. It called for the free trade of goods with the EU, with Britain accepting a “common rulebook” that would apply to those goods.
Opponents of the plan, like Johnson, say that would leave Britain subject to decisions made in Brussels without any input.
Since May’s botched bet on a snap election in June 2017 lost her party its majority in parliament, she has faced persistent talk of a leadership challenge which has weakened her as she tries to clinch a Brexit deal with the EU.
The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29. The EU and Britain hope to clinch a deal later this year so parliaments on both sides can ratify it before Brexit.
The Labour Party created another headache for May on Friday, when one of its senior lawmakers told the Financial Times that the party would vote against any Brexit deal she reaches, predicting that the lack of a viable exit from the EU would force May from office before Christmas.
Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Ros Russell