Robbie Gibb, Mrs May’s Director of Communications, spoken openly for the first time about the infamous Cabinet summit in July 2018 – which culminated in the resignation of Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary and David Davis, 24 hours earlier as Brexit Secretary. The meeting at the Prime Minister’s country retreat, aimed to finalise the final stages of Brexit negotiations with Brussels. Mr Gibb described the Chequers meeting as “fractious” and at moments the “atmosphere was tense”.
However by the end of the discussions, he recalls there was a “real sense of coming together” – including from the former London Mayor who gave a “jocular toast to the Prime Minister” over a glass of Champagne.
Mr Gibb wrote in the Mail Online: “In the sweltering heat, the Cabinet had gathered at the Prime Minister’s country retreat where, over eight long and sometimes fractious hours, ministers were talked through Theresa May’s proposals for how a new relationship with the European Union could work.”
He added: “It was by no means an easy sell and the atmosphere was tense.
“With discussions over, Cabinet unity was toasted with a glass of Churchill’s favourite champagne, Pol Roger, and by dinner there was a real sense of coming together.
“Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made a brilliant and jocular toast to the Prime Minister — who interrupted to say ‘If only people could see how united we are now’.”
However, less than 48 hours later, Mr Johnson confirmed his resignation from the Cabinet, sending shockwaves through Westminster.
The chief architect of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign said at the time he quit because he fear the Brexit “dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt” by Mrs May’s proposals.
Mr Johnson stated the plan was “a semi-Brexit” with large parts of the economy “locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system”.
He referenced the vision proposed by Mrs May during her Lancaster House speech just six months earlier, which outlined the UK would take back control of laws, borders and be able to strike free trade deals.
Mr Johnson insisted Mrs May’s initial vision had been “taken off the table” at Chequers.
With just 96 days until the UK is set to exit the EU, Mrs May’s former Director of Communications, who voted Leave, has urged Mr Johnson to grasp the second chance at deliver Brexit.
He said: “My message to the Brexit hold-outs is simple — you have been given a second chance to deliver what you say you want. Do not squander it — you may not get a third.”
Mr Gibb also had a warning for MPs who are trying to thwart Brexit by insisting public trust in democracy “may never recover”.
He added: “For those who seek to block Brexit once more — including the rump of Conservative MPs who refused to support Theresa May — you risk a breach of faith with the public so profound it may never recover.
“And to those on both sides of the House who stood on a manifesto promising to leave the EU — I say do what you promised voters. Deliver Brexit.”