In a resignation speech Wednesday, MP Boris Johnson castigated Prime Minister Theresa May for failing to uphold the British electorate’s vision of Brexit in negotiations with the European Union, insisting that it’s “not too late” to negotiate a return to complete British sovereignty.
Johnson began the speech by praising May’s initial vision for Brexit, laid out in a speech she delivered last year at Lancaster House, but quickly pivoted, accusing her of allowing a “fog of self-doubt” to compromise Britain’s position in talks with the E.U.
“Even though our EU friends and partners liked the Lancaster House vision — it was what they were expecting from an ambitious partner — we never actually went to Brussels and turned it into a negotiating offer,” Johnson said before the House of Commons.
The former foreign secretary and Mayor of London went on to detail the specific sacrifices he believed May had made thus far in negotiations, emphasizing Britain’s lack of autonomy to negotiate its own trade deals under the agreement she has proposed.
“We dithered. We burned through negotiating capital. We agreed to hand over a £40 billion exit fee, with no discussion of our future economic relationship. We accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court over key aspects of the withdrawal agreement,” Johnson said. “And worst of all we allowed the question of the Northern Irish border — which had hitherto been assumed on all sides to be readily soluble — to become so politically charged as to dominate the debate.”
Johnson first announced his resignation last week in response to the Brexit plan May unveiled at her official summer home, Chequers — a strategy Johnson and fellow conservatives claim constitutes a “Brexit in name only” that betrays the will of the electorate.
May, for her part, has defended her approach as the only “workable” path available to Britain, dismissing the position of Johnson and his compatriots as unrealistic and arguing that their vision would be economically disastrous for the country.