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Boris Johnson says the government is “working together” and that he will not be resigning after criticism of his intervention on Brexit.

The foreign secretary has been accused of undermining Theresa May with a 4,000-word article setting out his own post-EU vision.

But he told journalists the government was “a nest of singing birds”.

Ex-chancellor Ken Clarke accused Mr Johnson of making a pitch for a future Tory leadership election.

 

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Brexit: Boris Johnson ‘back-seat driving’ over Brexit, says Rudd.

Boris Johnson has been accused of being a Brexit “back-seat driver” by the home secretary.

Amber Rudd said it was fine for Mr Johnson to show his enthusiasm but he was not “driving the car” after he set out his vision for the UK post-Brexit in an article in the Daily Telegraph.

She said ministers must be united in their approach and help the prime minister manage the Brexit process.

The BBC understands Mr Johnson will not be sacked despite anger among some MPs.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable urged the prime minister to “fire this guy on Monday morning”, warning that if she did not act her authority would be “reduced to zero”.

Meanwhile the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority has written to Mr Johnson, questioning his decision in the 4,000 word article in Saturday’s Telegraph to refer again to a disputed figure used by Leave campaigners during the referendum about the UK’s EU budget contributions.

“I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the figure of £350m per week in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union,” Sir David Norgrove said.

“It is a clear misuse of official statistics,” he added.

‘Irrepressible enthusiast’

Ms Rudd said she had been too busy dealing with the terror attack in London to read the foreign secretary’s article.

But asked about Mr Johnson’s intervention, she said: “You could call it back-seat driving, absolutely.”

“I don’t want him managing the Brexit process, what we have got is Theresa May managing the process, driving the car. I am going to make sure, as far as I and the rest of the cabinet is concerned, we help her do that.”

Asked whether she shared the concerns of those – including Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson – who have criticised the timing of the intervention. she said they had a point.

“I know what an irrepressible enthusiast (Johnson) is about Brexit, and what he’s done is set it out there, I think it’s absolutely fine, I would expect nothing less from Boris,” she said.

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has repeated the controversial claim that leaving the EU would save £350m a week, which could be spent on the NHS.

The figure, used by Leave campaigners before the referendum, was “misleading”, the UK statistics watchdog later said.

Mr Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph that it would be fine, “if a lot of that money went on the NHS”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his words “dredge up the fantasy”.

In the run up to the referendum, the Leave campaign claimed the UK sent £20bn a year, or £350m a week, to Brussels in 2014.

Vote Leave emblazoned the figure on its campaign bus and said the money could be used to fund extra spending on public services such as the NHS.

But a letter from the head of the UK statistics watchdog Sir Andrew Dilnotduring the referendum campaign described the figure as “potentially misleading”.

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No sooner had her next European adventure been confirmed than the speculation began.

What message will Theresa May take with her to Italy next week? Inside Number 10, the view is not to spill a single fagiolo, a bean, before the words come out of her mouth.

That’s not just because they want the story to be told on her own terms in her own words, when she is ready to tell it.

But also, perhaps, because I’m told that she is yet to have signed off the full contents with those members of the cabinet who might object to some of it.

And frankly, at this stage, it is extremely difficult to get to the bottom of what the precise thinking in government really is, about the next move on Brexit.

And it is also very hard to understand exactly what the views really are from the different parts of the EU machine.

In the coming days, I’m told Boris Johnson is likely to see the PM. She’ll try to square him on her plans, with private suggestions that she has to persuade him to accept cash going to Brussels.

That would go against, of course, what he suggested in the referendum campaign, and also how he evoked the memory of Margaret Thatcher earlier this year, by mentioning the “illustrious precedent” of Fontainebleau.

 

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