Johnson’s ‘suicide vest’ jibe stirs new controversy
LONDON: Boris Johnson, Britain’s former foreign secretary, who resigned over differences on Brexit strategies with Prime Minister Theresa May in July, has caused a fresh controversy by accusing her of wrapping a “suicide vest” around Britain and handing the detonator to Brussels.
The latest remarks appeared in an article penned by Johnson The Mail on Sunday, in which he described the latest Brexit strategy by the government “a humiliation.”
“We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail.”
“We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to [EU’s negotiator] Michel Barnier,” Johnson wrote.
The first reactions from the government over the article came from two Foreign Office ministers who served under Johnson as foreign secretary.
Minister for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan was one of the first to react to Johnson’s “suicide vest” metaphor as he tweeted the act as one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics.”
“For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much,” Duncan said on Twitter.
“This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics. I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later.”
Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East, also criticized Johnson for the controversial remarks on Twitter.
“I’m stunned at the nature of this attack.”
“There is no justification for such an outrageous, inappropriate and hurtful analogy,” Burt said.
He said: “If we don’t stop this extraordinary use of language over Brexit, our country might never heal. Again, I say, enough.”
“A suicide bomber murdered many in the courtyard of my office in Helmand,” Tory MP and Foreign Relation Committee Chariman Tom Tugendhat said.
“Comparing the PM to that isn’t funny,” he said, taking on Johnson on Twitter.
Johnson attacked the latest Brexit strategy – also known as the Chequers proposal – in the article, by saying it “keeps us subject to EU rules for goods, for food, in practice for trade, and much else besides.”
“We look like a seven stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla,” Johnson wrote.
He also rejected a “backstop” option for Northern Ireland — a measure to avoid hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
According to the EU’s plan, Northern Ireland is to remain part of the single market should no trade deal resolve the border issue.
“We have managed to reduce the great British Brexit to two appalling options: either we must divide the union, or the whole country must accept EU law forever,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson last month came under fire after making Islamophobic remarks targeting Muslim women wearing burqas.
Johnson has faced calls to apologize after he said, in an opinion piece published in the Daily Telegraph, that Muslim women wearing burqas look like “letter boxes” and compared them to “bank robbers.”
His comparison has since been condemned by many politicians and organizations, including the Muslim Council of Britain. (AA)