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UK leader's holiday from Brexit battles comes to noisy end

Published:Monday | September 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM


British Prime Minister Theresa May's brief summer holiday from Brexit battles came to a noisy end Monday, as she faced attack from both sides of her divided Conservative Party.

Arch-rival Boris Johnson inflamed speculation that he aims to oust May by branding her plan for Brexit "a disaster".

Johnson fumed in a newspaper column that May's proposal to retain close economic ties with the European Union after Brexit would leave Britain locked in the trunk of a Brussels-driven car with "no say on the destination".

Meanwhile, a more pro-EU Conservative faction argued that the UK should keep even closer bonds with the bloc than May is proposing, at least temporarily.

Lawmaker Damian Green, an ally of May, conceded that the prime minister was in a tight spot.

"The government is walking a narrow path with people chucking rocks from both sides," he told the BBC.

Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary in July after feuding with May over Brexit, used his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper to accuse May of surrendering to the EU in divorce negotiations.

Johnson said Britain has "gone into battle with the white flag fluttering over our leading tank" and had agreed to pay a £40-billion ($51-billion) divorce bill in return "for two-thirds of diddly squat".

Britain is due to leave the EU in March, but negotiations have stalled amid divisions within May's Conservative government over how close an economic relationship to seek with the EU.