Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd does not want Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ‘managing the Brexit process’.
At the weekend, the former Mayor of London penned an article in The Telegraph describing how ‘this country will succeed in our new national enterprise, and will succeed mightily’.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Mrs Rudd, who is Home Secretary, said she had not read Mr Johnson’s comments in full given her work in responding to the Parsons Green tube attack but felt the article was ‘absolutely fine and I would expect no less from Boris’.
She had the ‘good fortune to work with Boris’ and described him as a an ‘irrepressible enthusiast’ about Brexit.
But she added: “I do not want him managing the Brexit process. What we have got is Theresa May managing that process.
“She is driving the car to continue the allegory and I’m going to make sure as far as I’m concerned and the rest of the cabinet are concerned we help her do that.”
She continued: “You could call it backseat driving absolutely. But I’m very clear that the Cabinet and the Government supports Theresa May, this a difficult moment to make sure we get the best result for the United Kingdom, but I’m sure we can.”
One of the most controversial topics during the EU referendum was the claim used by the Leave campaign that £350m could be spent funding the NHS instead of sending it to Europe.
In his article Mr Johnson said: “Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly 350m per week.
“It would be a fine thing as many of us have pointed out if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make the most of new technology.”
However following attacks from Sir David Norgrove, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Mr Johnson said his comment was ‘very different from claiming that there would be an extra £350m available for public spending’.
Asked about the comments, Mrs Rudd said: “I’m not going to re-fight the referendum and be drawn in once more to that device of theirs to talk about that number.
“The only number that matters to me is the difference between 48 and the 52. The 52 per cent voted for us to leave, I want to make sure the Government delivers on that and brings as many of the 48 with us as well, trying to unite the 52 and as many as possible of the 48.”
She added: “We need to get on with it, we need to do it in a way that protects the economy, that doesn’t have a cliff-edge, that makes sure that immigration attracts the brightest and the best, and we can do all those things as long as we do it at a pace where the Government is united and engaged with the European Union.”
Asked if Mr Johnson’s article was a leadership bid and if she had any ambitions to lead the Conservative Party, she replied: “I think the Government is united behind the Prime Minister, I think that Boris has had his say and I think he shows that incredible enthusiasm.”
She described waiting for the results of June’s general election, where Labour came very close to unseating her in Hastings and Rye, as an ‘anxious night’, adding: “A lot of things didn’t go as planned, a lot of things came by surprise and we are doing a review at the moment. I’m not going to unpick it now again.”
She concluded: “I am down in Hastings and Rye most weekends working locally, but my priority has to be as Home Secretary keeping people safe.”