Key EU Politician Asks Theresa May to Fire Boris Johnson

U.K.'s Morgan on Boris Johnson, Brexit Transition

A key European Union lawmaker urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to fire her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, in order to forge unity in the U.K. government over Brexit and to make headway in the negotiations.

Manfred Weber, leader of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, said Johnson’s rebellious, hardline positions on the U.K.’s planned withdrawal from the EU mean “the British government is trapped by their own party quarrels and political contradictions.” Weber spoke on Tuesday in an EU Parliament debate on Brexit.

“Theresa May please don’t put your party first, put please Britain first, put please citizens first,” the German politician told the 28-nation Parliament. “Please, no more speeches, show leadership on content. And the best probably would be please sack Johnson because we need a clear answer who is responsible for the British position.”

The comments by Weber, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, represent a rare case of an EU politician meddling in the composition of another national government and signal the degree of frustration across Europe with May’s Brexit strategy. EU lawmakers from across the aisle in Strasbourg, France, joined forces lambasting the U.K. leadership for the mixed messages coming out of London, as well as for the government’s internal struggles, which have prevented May from showing a united front.

‘Lack of Clarity’

In a sign of the political squeeze being exerted on May as she attends a conference of her Conservative Party in Manchester, England, the EU Parliament debate about Brexit on Tuesday made usual foes on European issues appear like allies when it came to the question of her leadership.

Guy Verhofstadt, the assembly’s Brexit point person who supports greater EU integration, echoed Weber by saying “there is a lack of clarity, there is even disunity” in the British government. Nigel Farage, the EU parliamentarian and Brexit champion who usually clashes with Verhofstadt and Weber by denouncing the bloc, said May needs to be replaced as British leader.

“I do actually agree with the criticisms that I’ve heard around the room about the mixed messages coming out from the U.K. government,” Farage said. “I just hope that, in Manchester, the Conservative Party starts to say in public what they’re all saying to me in private -- that she’s a waste of space, she needs to go.”

The EU Parliament is due to vote on a resolution stating that leaders of the bloc’s remaining 27 countries shouldn’t approve trade talks with the U.K. when they meet this month. While EU lawmakers don’t have a formal say in Brexit negotiations, they will ultimately have a veto over the entire Brexit deal at the end of the process.

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