Boris Johnson's bad day

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has come under fire. Credit: PA

It seems Boris Johnson was up against all his old foes on Sunday.

First, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who famously said during the EU referendum campaign that you can't trust Mr Johnson to "take you home at the end of an evening", has now accused him of 'back-seat driving' over Brexit. Thanks, in large part, to that rather mammoth 4,000 word essay he wrote for the Telegraph laying out his vision for a 'glorious' Brexit.

Not so glorious for our Prime Minister, who was hoping to get in there first with a major speech on Friday outlining the government's official position.

And it is the detail of his article which has also attracted the criticism of a second old foe. As I tweeted earlier, once again the UK Statistics Authority has written to the Foreign Secretary to say it is "surprised and disappointed" that he has repeated his favourite figure - the claim Britain could spend up to £350m a week extra on the NHS once we stop paying in to the EU.

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The UK's top stats boffins warned Boris Johnson during the referendum campaign that the sum is misleading, because we already get some of that money back via a rebate (money which is technically never sent to Brussels) and also through investment and subsidies from the EU.

Boris Johnson attempted to revive the claims that Brexit could bring the UK £350m a week. Credit: PA

This time, he's using the figure as a senior government minister, and the authority accuses him of a "clear misuse of official statistics", which is about as stern as civil servants get. In doing so, the UK Statistics Authority has provided the likes of Amber Rudd with a little extra ammo.

This morning she implied on the BBC that while Boris Johnson brings "energy, enthusiasm and sometimes entertainment" to the government, he's not really a serious character. If he is indeed using sloppy statistics, that only helps paint the image of a man who is big on ideas but lacking on detail.

Amber Rudd labelled Boris Johnson a 'backseat driver'.

All this, though, is unlikely to faze him. When he took on the statisticians during the referendum campaign, it only served to highlight his argument that we send an awful lot of money to the EU, whatever the precise sum.

And when Amber Rudd attacked him during a televised debate, many felt that only strengthened his hand as the underdog. It's doubtful that similar attacks today are anything more than a scratch.

In fact this morning the Prime Minister's right-hand man and First Secretary of State, Damian Green, told Sky News that there was no way Boris Johnson would be sacked, despite several Conservative MPs telling me this weekend that they are irate with him.

Many are upset that he has disturbed a relative period of stability for the party, which has had a couple of solid weeks in the Commons making progress on Brexit legistlation.

Theresa May looks set to keep Boris Johnson on the frontbench. Credit: PA

But one senior minister I spoke to today conceded that firing Boris Johnson "would only create more of a problem". Some think that perhaps he should be shuffled into the role of party Chairman instead, but even that looks like a remote option for a weakened Prime Minister.

For his part, Boris Johnson has tweeted that he's 'all behind' the Prime Minister, and his team insist he was only trying to contribute to the debate about the country's future, not his own.

A source close to him told me that the Foreign Secretary had also spoken to the UK Statistics Authority about the £350m figure and it was only the Telegraph's headline, not the detail of his article, which concerned them.

More importantly, Downing St said to me this weekend that "Boris is Boris". Which sounds awfully like they view him as a naughty child, rather than a mortal enemy - for now.