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Boris Johnson calls for public sector pay rise and pressures Theresa May on Brexit

Boris Johnson has called for the Prime Minister to increase public sector pay. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has called on the Prime Minister to give public sector workers a pay rise.

The Foreign Secretary also put renewed pressure on Theresa May over Brexit, telling The Sun that any post-withdrawal transition period must not last "a second more" than two years.

In an interview ahead of the Tories' annual conference on Sunday, Mr Johnson told the newspaper that five million state employees should have a wage rise funded by cutting the number of public sector workers.

He also said current minimum wage of £7.50 an hour - rising to £9 by 2020 - should be higher.

Mr Johnson told The Sun: "People get up unbelievably early and they work unbelievably hard, they deserve to be properly paid.

“You can pay people more, but shrink your wages bill.

“I’ll be honest with you. I do think you can always find ways of reducing expenditure on things that are not necessary."

Boris Johnson called for a public sector pay rise. Credit: PA

Asked about the current level of the minimum wage, Mr Johnson said: “We brought in a National Living Wage.

“I think that is the right thing to do but it is obviously not enough, and I would of course see people getting decently rewarded for their hard work. I really believe in that.”

Both issues lay outside of a Foreign Secretary's remit and Mr Johnson's comments will be seen as another challenge to Theresa May's authority as the party faithful gathered in Manchester.

Last week he served up a political storm after publishing a 4,000-word blueprint for a "hard" Brexit, just as Mrs May prepared to deliver her own speech about leaving the EU in Florence, a move that prompted Home Secretary Amber Rudd to accuse him of "backseat driving".

Speaking to The Sun, Mr Johnson said the UK should not have to abide by any new EU rules during a post-withdrawal transition period, and that Britain should not make payments to Brussels after it.

Mr Johnson, who insisted his stance was not a leadership pitch after a poll of activists showed him well favoured for the top job, said Brexit needed to happen quickly.

He told the Sun: "Am I impatient about it, do I want to get it done as fast as possible? Yes, absolutely. Do I want the delay to go on longer than two years? Not a second more."

Theresa May is trying to assert her grip on the Conservative Party. Credit: PA

The Foreign Secretary's comments came as Mrs May is attempting to assert her grip on her party ahead of its annual gathering.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Foreign Secretary's stance threatened a trade war with the EU.

He said: "It seems a pretty dysfunctional Government. I can't imagine what it's like sitting around a table with their Brexit negotiating team because there are three or four people with three or four completely different opinions.

"Boris this morning seems to be saying two years maximum on the transition period and then no shadowing of EU rules. Well, that sounds to me like a threat to have a trade policy that undermines Europe.

"Therein lies the basis of a trade war of the future, therein lies a threat to thousands and thousands of jobs in Britain.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said Mr Johnson's intervention had undermined the Government's Brexit negotiating position.