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19 July 2018

The former foreign secretary Boris Johnson made a stunning intervention in the House of Commons yesterday, doubling down on the stinging criticism of the prime minister he laid out in his resignation letter last Monday.

He complained once again of the “fog of self-doubt” that has crippled May’s negotiating capacity, explaining that “we burned through our negotiating capital, we agreed to hand over a £40bn exit fee and we accepted the jurisdiction of the ECJ”.

“After 18 months of stealthy retreat, we have come from the bright certainties of Lancaster House to the Chequers agreement”.

Boris’ vocal opposition to the prime minister and her plan distinguishes him from other so-called “Eurosceptics” like Michael Gove, Liam Fox, and Dominic Raab who have been cowed by Theresa May or lured away from their principled by the supposed glory of ministerial office.

Perhaps it’s time for Boris to go one step further than vocal criticism and launch a bid for the leadership of the Conservative party. It would certainly be nice to get a proper Brexiteer in Downing Street…

The time for real leadership is now, especially with Brussels talking about an extension of Article 50 – a move which could keep us trapped in seemingly endless negotiations for another two years.

City A.M. has quoted sources in the European Parliament who claim that “all the EU27 are prepared to do it”, with MEPs claiming that the extension could last between a few weeks and two whole years.

When 17.4m people voted to leave the EU in June 2016, we expected to be out. But now, two years later, after pointless delays in triggering Article 50, our exit date looks further away than ever. A delay beyond May 2019 would see us subjected to another round of European parliament elections.

With Nigel Farage vowing a return to frontline politics if we’re not out by April 2019, and UKIP rapidly rising in the polls on the back of the Chequers plan, it’s time for Tories to think fast and act if they don’t want their party destroyed by a spate of patriotic defections. It nearly happened before, and it can certainly happen in the future.

Brexit Brunch will resume daily updates in September following the parliamentary recess.