Tory MPs blast Boris Johnson - best of the blue on blue attacks

Boris Johnson is thought to have wined and dined a Tory aide on Valentine's Day

Boris Johnson is thought to have wined and dined a Tory aide on Valentine's Day

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the former foreign secretary said the United Kingdom had opened itself to "perpetual political blackmail" with the so-called backstop plan to ensure no hard border in Ireland.

Its existence infuriated allies of the former Foreign Secretary, who accused Conservative headquarters of dirty tricks created to undermine his criticism of her Chequers plans for Brexit.

Sammy Wilson said the former foreign secretary's assessment of the Brexit plan "communicated beautifully the dilemma the government has placed the country in".

The party was gripped by fresh in-fighting with four ministers attacking their former colleague's provocative remarks and a prominent MP warning she would quit the Tory whip if he became Prime Minister.

Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson launched a two-pronged attack on Britain's government on Sunday, criticising suggestions it may increase taxes to fund services and its management of a high-speed rail project.

"Comparing the PM to that isn't amusing", he said, taking on Johnson on Twitter.

"We look like a seven stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla", Johnson wrote.

Johnson's column appeared a day after he and his wife Marina Wheeler announced they had separated and planned to divorce.

He also lashed out at the Northern Ireland "backstop" - the measure aimed at making sure there is no hard border with Ireland.

The Sunday Telegraph runs with a proposal from Justice Secretary David Gauke to allow prisoners access to phones.

The centre-right newspaper said that Johnson's remarks "will do little to dampen speculation that he is preparing to make his pitch to take over as Conservative leader".

In his most outspoken comments about her negotiating strategy, Mr Johnson said: "It is a humiliation".

In his Mail on Sunday article, Mr Hunt said Parliament would get to debate and vote on any agreement, adding: "Until then, we should not rush to judgement on a deal that is still under negotiation".

Number 10 said it would not be drawn into discussing the private life of an MP, and issued a denial when asked if Downing Street had been involved in the creation or circulation of the Johnson dossier.

Mrs May's spokesman said: "What we need at this time is serious leadership with a serious plan and that's exactly what the country has with this Prime Minister and this Brexit plan".

The plan is known as "Chequers" after the prime minister's country retreat where it was agreed at a cabinet meeting.

"It is time to scrap the backstop, fix the borders for frictionless trade, and get back to the open and dynamic approach outlined in Theresa May's original Lancaster House speech - with a big Canada-style free trade deal".

The former chairman of the Eurosceptic European Research Group said Mrs May faces "a massive problem" because of the scale of opposition to Chequers among Tory grassroots members.

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