Boris Johnson backed by Michael Gove in £350m NHS cash row

Marie Harrington
September 19, 2017

Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson is set to hold crunch talks with Theresa May this week after his explosive 10-point plan for Brexit plunged the Government into disarray.

Boris Johnson accused David Norgrove of a "complete misrepresentation" of his views and called on him to withdraw the criticism.

Johnson responded in a letter to Norgrove: "I must say that I was surprised and disappointed by your letter of today, since it was based on what appeared to be a wilful distortion of the text of my article".

"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".

"If there was a suicide pact of that nature, you'd think Boris would have had the courtesy to tell us he was going to jump", he said. You do not write an article like that without consulting the prime minister and your cabinet colleagues.

"All of the UK's contributions to the European Union are published online and you can go and look at them", she said, adding: "I'm not getting into the ins and outs of the figures".

He wrote: "Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week".

Pressed on Mr Johnson's suggestion of more cash for the NHS, she said: "By definition we are now paying money into the European Union, and there will be a point in the future when we've left the European Union [when] we won't be paying that money into the EU".

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"That is very different from claiming that there would be an extra £350m available for public spending and I am amazed that you should impute such a statement to me".

But The Observer newspaper carried a story saying that Tory MPs were demanding the firing of the foreign secretary.

Her line was a reference to fellow minister Amber Rudd dismissing Johnson as a "back seat driver" after he published a 4,000-word article warning that he would not back a "soft Brexit".

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

In a message on Twitter, Mr Ellwood, who served under Mr Johnson at the Foreign Office until June, said: "Party discord: Think many would agree we are not witnessing our finest hour, at a testing time when poise, objective and unity are called for".

Later, after the motives and timing of his intervention were criticised, Mr Johnson insisted in a tweet linked to his article that he was "looking forward to PM's Florence speech". "All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit". London's future as Europe's premier financial hub is one of the biggest issues in Brexit talks because the sector is the UK's biggest source of corporate tax revenue.

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.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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