Please see my latest wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘Johnson says Brexit can be done’:
Today marks a Brexit milestone. Alongside the June 2016 referendum and the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech of January 2017 will stand Boris Johnson’s personal statement to the House of Commons. It has one theme: “It is not too late to save Brexit.”
Doubtless this is the opening salvo of more challenges to come, for which Mr. Johnson now leads the pack. In other words, while it may not be too late to save Brexit, it may be too late to save Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party.
Mr. Johnson’s resignation last week as foreign secretary came three days after Mrs. May’s Cabinet summit Friday at the premier’s official country seat, Chequers. She capitulated to the European Union and betrayed the promise of Brexit.
The subsequent white paper outlining the government’s formal position only added insult to injury as the full extent of her opening round of appeasement became known. “In important ways this is BINO or Brino or Brexit in name only,” Mr. Johnson told the House, adding that he was “of course unable to support it.”
Mr. Johnson’s verbal shot mightn’t be heard round the world, but it was a shot across the Prime Minister’s bow with advice that she “can fix that vision once again before us” and “deliver a great Brexit for Britain” to “unite this party, unite this House, and unite the country.”
Time, though, grows short. The initial referendum euphoria of Britain realizing its own Independence Day was soon obscured by “a fog of self-doubt.” Instead of riding high on the flooding tide of fortune, Mr. Johnson bemoaned, Britain “dithered” and “burned through negotiating capital.”
Now, Mr. Johnson said, “after 18 months of stealthy retreat,” Britain had come “from the bright certainties” of Lancaster House, where Mrs. May outlined her goals and negotiating strategy, to the Chequers agreement, where she upended them.
My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.