Theresa May: I don’t want cabinet of ‘yes men’

Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
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Theresa May has defended her decision not to sack Boris Johnson for breaking with government policy on Brexit, saying she doesn’t want a cabinet of “yes men”.

The Prime Minister insisted she had set out the policy on a Post-Brexit transition in her speech in Florence, and the the UK was “not a supplicant” in Brexit talks.

But as Mrs May was giving a series of interviews this morning, the impact of the Foreign Secretary’s interventions on Brexit was made clear as a leading European politician told the Prime Minister to sack Mr Johnson.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP group in the European Parliament, called on the Prime Minister to eliminate a source of uncertainty from her government.

Mr Weber was applauded as he told MEPs: “Theresa May, please don't put your party first. Put Britain first.

”Please sack Johnson because we need a clear answer for what is the British position.”

The European Parliament was receiving an update on the progress of Brexit talks from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said talks had not advanced enough to move on to the UK’s trade relationship after Brexit.

On Monday nigh, Mr Johnson appeared to disown a series of ‘red lines’ set out in a newspaper interview on the first day of conference that cut across Mrs May’s plans for a post-Brexit transition.

Asked what line the Foreign Secretary would have to cross to be fired, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t set red lines.” She later hit out at claims she was too weak to get rid of Mr Johnson, adding: “Weak leadership is about having a cabinet full of yes men.”

In interviews this morning, Mrs May insisted that she was in charge of the government, and would lead her party into the next general election.

She suggested it had been a mistake not to take part in TV election debates against Jeremy Corbyn earlier this year, saying she “might take a different approach next time”.

Mrs May rejected suggestions that plans to increase funding for the Help to Buy scheme and ease debt repayment terms for graduates were piecemeal proposals, saying Labour’s plans couldn’t be delivered.

Attacking Labour over its plans to scrap tuition fees and a suggestion it could abolish student debt, the Prime Minister said: “Jeremy Corbyn is promising something he knows he can’t deliver.”

Mr Johnson will deliver his conference speech entitled ‘Let the Lion Roar’ today, with Mrs May closing the Conservative Party conference in Manchester tomorrow.