Boris Johnson faced a Cabinet backlash last night after his chief adviser suggested cutting security ties with EU countries that support a Brexit delay.

In an incendiary briefing, a ‘senior government source’ said that backing another extension would be seen by the PM as a ‘hostile interference in domestic politics.’

The source said that countries supporting another delay would ‘go to the back of the queue’ for future co-operation on everything from trade to security.

The briefing to The Spectator was carried out on an anonymous basis on Monday night. 

But former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd yesterday named the source as Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings – a claim that was not denied by No10.

But former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd yesterday named the source as Mr Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings ¿ a claim that was not denied by No10

But former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd yesterday named the source as Mr Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings ¿ a claim that was not denied by No10

But former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd yesterday named the source as Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings – a claim that was not denied by No10

The comments sparked a backlash, with Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith and Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan both protesting directly to the PM during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

Mr Smith later went public, saying that any threat to limit security co-operation with Ireland because of its stance on Brexit would be ‘unacceptable’. 

Sources said Mrs Morgan complained to Mr Johnson about the briefing, prompting him to respond: ‘You shouldn’t believe what you read. You should listen to what I say instead.’

In the Commons, Michael Gove was also challenged about the tone and content of the briefing by Tory MPs. 

Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell asked Mr Gove: ‘Is he proud of the tone and character of quasi-official briefings and language coming out of No10? Does he think it is helpful?’

In an interview on Radio Four’s Today programme, Miss Rudd named Mr Cummings as the source of the briefing, adding: ‘Otherwise it would have been denied and heads would have rolled.’

Sources said Mrs Morgan complained to Mr Johnson about the briefing, prompting him to respond: 'You shouldn't believe what you read. You should listen to what I say instead.'

Sources said Mrs Morgan complained to Mr Johnson about the briefing, prompting him to respond: 'You shouldn't believe what you read. You should listen to what I say instead.'

Sources said Mrs Morgan complained to Mr Johnson about the briefing, prompting him to respond: ‘You shouldn’t believe what you read. You should listen to what I say instead.’

However, a No10 source insisted Mr Johnson was not concerned by the complaints.

‘These people all signed up to the possibility of No Deal at the end of this month if it came to it,’ the source said. 

‘It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that this is where we find ourselves. We have put a reasonable offer on the table and the EU’s response is to move towards an even more intransigent position. We are not going to make the same mistakes as Theresa May who talked tough and then rolled over. We mean it – we are leaving.’ 

The 800-word briefing to The Spectator suggests that Mr Johnson will move directly to advocate No Deal if the EU finally rejects his proposal in the coming days.

‘If the deal dies in the next few days, then it won’t be revived,’ the source said. ‘To marginalise the Brexit Party we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘no more delays, get Brexit done immediately’.’

In the Commons, Michael Gove was also challenged about the tone and content of the briefing by Tory MPs

In the Commons, Michael Gove was also challenged about the tone and content of the briefing by Tory MPs

In the Commons, Michael Gove was also challenged about the tone and content of the briefing by Tory MPs

Downing Street has told the courts that Mr Johnson will obey the Benn Act, which requires him to seek a Brexit extension if he has not secured a deal by October 19. But the new briefing states that the Government has had ‘clear’ legal advice that ‘we can do all sorts of things to scupper delay’.

It suggested that co-operation on economic links, defence and security could all be made contingent on whether or not EU states agree to a delay. The duty of ‘sincere co-operation’, under which EU states agree not to undermine the organisation, would be ‘in the toilet’, it said.

And the briefing suggested that EU countries could face a backlash from the British public if they are seen to be trying to stop Brexit. 

‘Those who supported delay will face the inevitable consequences of being seen to interfere in domestic politics in a deeply unpopular way by colluding with a Parliament that is as popular as the clap,’ the briefing said. 

The PM’s official spokesman said Brexit talks were focused on removing the Irish backstop rather than security and defence co-operation.

Source : Mail Online

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