Boris Johnson uttered a crude four-letter word during an exchange between ministers that criticized Theresa May's policy on Brexit. The Foreign Secretary Johnson spoke the four-letter word before his fellow prime ministers during a special Chequers summit Friday that was intended to unite the Cabinet. Johnson himself has been accused of betrayal by Tory Brexiteers for not blocking Mrs. May’s ‘soft Brexit’ proposals. This time, he spoke out against the plan for the UK to remain in line with Brussels rules in a new free trade zone with the EU.
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Johnson reportedly told May anyone obliged to defend the proposals would be "polishing a turd." He went on to add, "Luckily we have some expert turd polishers." Johnson further pressured May publicly saying that her decision to try to "align" UK trading rules with the EU would reduce Britain to the humiliating status of a "vassal state." Other issues the foreign minister brought up included her cherished new customs plan, the Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA). Johnson called the FCA a "serious inhibitor" to opening new trade deals with non-EU nations.
The outright dissent Johnson brandished before May comes hours after May tried to say that anyone who defied her would be sacked and she will enforce collective Cabinet responsibility. Some officials speculated that Johnson's outburst would force May's hand or she would appear weak meaning she was going to fire him. A Sunday poll by the Daily Mail shows 33 percent of voters supporting her Brexit plan and 23 percent oppose it.
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The poll was the first since the Chequers summit and suggests May has twice the support of Johnson, although voters don't believe her plan is "faithful" to the EU referendum result. Eurosceptic Tories said there was so much anger toward the PM's so-called "sell-out" that some MPs would submit no-confidence votes to force an opposition against her leadership. An ally of Johnson said, "Boris has acted with total propriety. He told the Prime Minister his views openly. There is nothing new in him expressing himself in robust and colorful language. There is no offense in that."
When asked about why Johnson had not resigned, the same supporter added, "Boris is of more use to the country inside the Cabinet because it will enable him to stop a soft Brexit getting any softer. The only person who would benefit from him leaving Cabinet would be Michel Barnier the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator."
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