Boris Johnson believes Tories can win next General Election
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Boris Johnson has sparked another four-letter word row after reportedly saying “f*** the Americans” when told Rishi Sunak’s willingness to compromise on Brexit stemmed from a need to appease US President Joe Biden. The former Prime Minister famously ruffled feathers four years ago after witnesses claimed to have heard him use the phrase “f*** business” when told captains of industry were alarmed at the impact of Brexit.
One source close to Mr Johnson admitted he referred to the USA in such terms during a conversation with ex-Tory cabinet minister and Remainer Sir Robert Buckland – but insisted the 58-year was attempting to be “jocular” in what was described as a “cordial exchange”.
Mr Johnson last week urged Mr Sunak against any move to pull the plug on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would give the Government the power to suspend the controversial mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Subsequently, during a chat with Mr Buckland in the Commons, Mr Johnson was told by Sir Robert a compromise on the subject of the Protocol, which Unionist critics claim has driven a wedge between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, would improve relations with Washington and Mr Biden, due to visit in April for the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Johnson then replied: “F*** the Americans!”, reported the Daily Mail.
A source close to Mr Johnson said: “This was a jocular conversation in the Chamber with Robert Buckland that someone has evidently misunderstood.”
Sir Robert, Mr Johnson’s former Justice Secretary, likewise stressed it had been a “cordial exchange” with both men seeking progress, but with different strategies on how to effect it.
Also speaking last week, Sir Robert said the legislation, introduced when Mr Johnson was in Number 10, and which would allow the Government to suspend aspects of the Protocol, had outlived its usefulness.
Labour was quick to voice its concerns about Mr Johnson’s alleged remark, with one party source insisting it was “no joke to the Americans, who are our closest allies”.
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Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle said: “It’s no joke to the people of Northern Ireland who are desperate to get a new deal done.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Johnson declined to say whether he would support any deal which Mr Sunak brings back from Brussels aimed at resolving the row over the Protocol.
He told Sky News: “I think that it’s important that we wait to see what there may be.
“But I think the best way forward is, as I said when I was running the government, is the Northern Ireland Bill, which, you know, cleared the Commons very comfortably, I think unamended, when I was in office only a few months ago.
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“So I think that’s the best way forwards.”
Claiming the legislation he introduced would fix problems with the Protocol, including returning control of VAT in Northern Ireland from Brussels to Westminster, he added: “It’s a very good bill. It fixes all the problems.
“It solves the problems that we have in the Irish Sea, solves the problems of paperwork, VAT and so on.
“It’s an excellent bill and doesn’t set up any other problems in the economy of the whole island of Ireland. So I’d go with that one.”
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