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Johnson blasts May’s ‘deranged’ Brexit plan ahead of Conservative conference



Boris Johnson has launched a blistering attack on Theresa May’s Brexit plan ahead of the Tory conference, calling the proposal “deranged” and “preposterous”.

In his latest outburst, the former foreign secretary questioned whether the prime minister believes in Brexit as he rejected her Chequers strategy for leaving the European Union.

“Unlike the prime minister, I campaigned for Brexit,” he told the Sunday Times.

“Unlike the prime minister, I fought for this, I believe in it, I think it’s the right thing for our country and I think that what is happening now is, alas, not what people were promised in 2016.”

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Mr Johnson said Mrs May’s proposal that Britain and the EU should collect each other’s tariffs was “entirely preposterous”.

“The idea that we could ask customs officers in Dubrovnik and Santander to charge British-only tariffs is deranged, and nobody thinks it can work,” he added.

Mr Johnson’s remarks are the latest in a series of interventions on Brexit, including an interview with Sky News, that have fuelled speculation he is preparing to challenge Mrs May’s leadership.

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In her own Sunday Times interview, Mrs May said it was a “matter of trust in politicians” that the government deliver on the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

She said: “We’re the party that always puts country first and puts the national interest first. And that’s what I want us to be doing.

“The only proposal on the table at the moment that delivers that is the Chequers plan.”

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has voiced support for Jeremy Hunt after the foreign secretary said he was “not dismissing” a Canada-style free trade agreement, a proposal backed by Mr Johnson.

Mr Gove told the Mail on Sunday: “I’m sure (Mr Hunt) would have considered his comments carefully and they would therefore have merit and should be listened to.

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Sky’s chief political correspondent Jon Craig said Mrs May was facing a “power struggle” within her party from opponents of her Chequers plan.

“As well as attacks outside the cabinet, there are cabinet ministers – like Mr Hunt and Michael Gove – suggesting she changes tact,” he said.

Mr Hunt is among the cabinet ministers due to address the Tory party conference in Birmingham on Sunday.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt are also due to give speeches.

The Tory party was hit by an embarrassing security gaffe ahead of the event as a flaw in the official conference app allowed access to the contact details of cabinet ministers and senior MPs.

The mobile phone numbers of Chancellor Philip Hammond and Mr Johnson were among those which could be accessed without a password.

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis apologised for the breach of security and the UK’s data watchdog said it would make inquiries about the case.

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