- Boris Johnson and Sir Lynton Crosby, the man who ran Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign, are reportedly plotting to oust the prime minister by destroying her Brexit vision.
- Crosby is said to be supercharging the work of the European Research Group and Change Britain in a ruse to eventually install Johnson in 10 Downing Street.
- Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, May said the government will not accept any compromises to her Chequers Brexit plan “that are not in our national interest.”
bYJAKE KANTER//Theresa May is facing a coup — and it’s people close the British prime minister plotting to remove her from office.
Johnson resigned his post in July after disagreeing with May’s Brexit vision, meaning he is now an influential figure on the backbenches of the governing Conservative Party. Crosby is an election campaign strategist, who oversaw May’s disastrous general election operation in 2017, but worked with Johnson on two successful mayoral elections in London.
The Sunday Times said Crosby is secretly masterminding a plot to destroy May’s Chequers Brexit plan and is in close contact with the European Research Group (ERG), an influential group of Tory MPs campaigning for a hard Brexit.
Together, they are reportedly planning a nationwide campaign to derail May’s plan and, with the support of Johnson, will present an alternative vision for leaving the European Union before the Tory party conference later this month. Crosby is also said to be attempting to revitalise pro-Brexit group Change Britain.
The work is seen as a front to eventually installing Johnson in 10 Downing Street, where he can deliver on the staunch Brexiteer vision of a clean break from the EU. But a source close to Johnson denied his involvement in the Change Britain plans, telling the Mail on Sunday: “Boris has always backed the aims of Change Britain but he has no role in the organisation.”
Detractors of the Chequers vision are talking up a coup, however. “Lynton’s firm is working with the ERG to run this campaign to bring down Chequers. It looks like Lynton is hitting back after falling out over the election campaign and is trying to boot out the prime minister. They want to get Boris in,” a source told The Sunday Times. “If we stop Chequers, there is no way she’ll survive.”
The Mail on Sunday reported that May is aware of the plot. Citing senior figures at Tory headquarters, it said the prime minister has declared war on Johnson and the attempt to derail her plans. “Boris hasn’t thought this through. His plan could result in us delaying leaving the EU, or even not leaving at all. If that happens, the party membership would never forgive him,” a source told the newspaper.
And writing in The Sunday Telegraph, May said the government will not accept any compromises to her Chequers Brexit plan “that are not in our national interest.” The prime minister also ruled out a second Brexit referendum, saying it would be a “gross betrayal” of democracy and trust.