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Amber Rudd hits out at 'backseat driving' Boris Johnson after Brexit article

Home Secretary Amber Rudd reaffirmed her support for the Prime Minister.

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has hit out at Boris Johnson for attempted "backseat driving" over the Brexit process.

She spoke out after Mr Johnson laid out his own blueprint for exiting the EU in an extended article which came just days before Prime Minister Theresa May was due to set out her official policy on the issue.

His actions had provoked fresh speculation over his leadership ambitions, and led to calls within the party for him to be sacked from his frontbench roll as Foreign Secretary.

Mrs Rudd was clear that he had overstepped the line in a public slapdown as she appeared on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

I don't want him managing the Brexit process.

What we've got is Theresa May managing that process, she's driving the car to continue the allegory, and I'm going to make sure as far as I'm concerned and the rest of the cabinet is concerned we help her do that.

– Amber Rudd
Boris Johnson's Brexit blueprint will add to speculation he still hopes to become Conservative leader Credit: PA

Mrs Rudd, who campaigned for the Remain side in the EU referendum, said she had been too busy dealing with the Parsons Green Tube attack to read Mr Johnson's piece and questioned the timing of its release.

During the Brexit campaign Mrs Rudd said Mr Johnson was "not the man you want driving you home", and when pressed on Mr Johnson's latest actions she replied, "you could call it backseat driving".

The Home Secretary described the Foreign Secretary as an "irrepressible enthusiast" on Brexit.

Mrs Rudd also said Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson "has a point" when she criticised Mr Johnson for submitting the piece as London suffered another terror attack.

Mr Johnson himself insisted on Saturday that he was "all behind" the Prime Minister and "looking forward" to her speech in Italy.

Adding to a catalogue of criticism, he was also picked up for a "clear misuse" of official figures by the statistics watchdog over the £350-million-a-week claim.

Sir David Norgrove, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to Mr Johnson saying he he is "surprised and disappointed" he had repeated the claims

He said the figure "confuses" the gross and net contributions the UK makes to EU coffers - meaning it takes account of money paid out but not the money that the UK gets back.

He wrote:"I am surprised and disappointed that you have chosen to repeat the figure of £350 million per week, in connection with the amount that might be available for extra public spending when we leave the European Union."

Boris Johnson was criticised for misuse of statistics. Credit: PA

Today, Mrs Rudd said she did not think Mr Johnson's article was a leadership bid and said her Cabinet colleague added "enthusiasm, energy, and sometimes entertainment".

Asked if the intervention was helpful, she replied: "I think it is absolutely fine. I would expect nothing less from Boris."

The Home Secretary has been widely touted as a potential successor to Mrs May and she failed to rule out a bid for the top job.

Asked about her future ambitions, she insisted her focus was on "keeping people safe".

"I haven't got time for the rest of it," she said.

Theresa May is due to set out details of her Brexit policy shortly. Credit: PA

The First Secretary of State Damian Green, Mrs May's de facto deputy, said Mr Johnson would not be sacked over his intervention.

Mr Green told Sunday With Paterson on Sky News: "No, he isn't and the reason is, he, like the rest of the Cabinet, like the Prime Minister, is all about wanting to get the best deal for the British people."

Mr Green suggested "people should calm down" after a "weekend of excitement".

Describing Mr Johnson as a "very entertaining writer", the PM's close ally said he did not think there was "anything surprising" in the article and insisted it did not contradict Mrs May's last major speech on Brexit.