Boris Johnson will not apologise for comments in a new book about British prime minister Theresa May, reports say.
A Downing Street spokesman said a statement from Mrs May’s spokesperson would be issued later on Sunday regarding reports that Mrs May had told Johnson to apologise to an “unnamed national newspaper”.
It was reported that Johnson was reprimanded for his comments in the book after the cabinet issued a statement in response to the book.
Johnson told a reporter on his way to see his father-in-law, the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, that he would not be “goaded into apologising”.
In a statement issued by Number 10, the prime minister’s official spokesman said Mrs May “understands there are times when publishing historic events may be particularly newsworthy, but she would not normally comment on the private discussions she has with members of her Cabinet.
“This is one of those times, she has decided that a formal response is required, so she will be making a statement later this morning.”
Mr Johnson issued a tweet in response saying that while he was “not proud” of his comments in his book, he had not received any form of official reprimand over them.
The book – written by journalist and biographer Robert Harris – is titled “May’s Secret Wars: Inside the Turbulent Civil Service and Government During the Brexit Divorce” and extracts were published by the Sunday Times.
In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr program, Johnson suggested his colleagues be prepared to resign in order to see Britain leave the European Union.
And he said he would not apologise for his remarks, which he described as “mundane”.
“Of course I am ashamed of that book,” Johnson said, in an interview with Andrew Marr on BBC One.
“But it’s something that should be published because people should know what’s going on. But by the way it was dull so it shouldn’t be the focus.
“What’s important is what’s going on on the ground and it’s not helpful for the people of this country to allow partisan media from all sides to pry in on private conversations about our discussions on very important issues.”
Mr Harris wrote that Mrs May warned the cabinet about the “chaos” of Brexit in an unusual “fire drill” session in June, but that a senior minister then dismissed Mr Johnson’s concerns, saying there was little she could do because the Brexit process was out of her hands.
Harris writes that Johnson was enraged by the rebuttal.
“Nobody listens to him. Theresa May is a weak prime minister. If you listen to the Cabinet, the Cabinet is united,” Mr Harris quotes a senior minister as saying.
Mr Harris says Johnson himself seemed to hold the same view at the time: “There was a very clear but impenetrable distrust of the policy and Johnson himself seemed to think Mrs May was powerless to change it.”
The book also included extracts from Johnson’s memoirs in which he slammed the “miserable” Foreign Office, characterised Mrs May as a “horrible” boss, and railed against diplomats who he said had treated him badly.
In other details disclosed, the book claimed that several ministers called to warn Mrs May about her plans to give ministers a role in the Brexit negotiations, with some feeling they were being sidelined by Philip Hammond, Brexit secretary David Davis and Mrs May’s official spokesman.
And Mr Harris claimed that some ministers are unhappy with the way new immigration curbs have been introduced because they mean they will be banned from non-EU workers.
He wrote: “It seems that certain ministers don’t like the way ministers of the relevant department are being excluded from the process and officials are taking the lead. ‘They’re being excluded, why is this happening?’ asked one official. ‘Because they are the rubber stamp!'”
Mr Harris also wrote about former foreign secretary Boris Johnson in the book.
He wrote that Johnson’s senior aide Paul Dacre “doubted he could fill Mrs May’s shoes” but assumed he could at least win the “bad cop” role, saying: “He was constantly telling Theresa May to drop the bad cop routine”.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson’s remarks had drawn a rebuke from the prime minister’s spokeswoman, who said: “The prime minister fully understands that this is one of those times when the prime minister would not normally comment on private discussions she has with members of her Cabinet”.
The spokesman added: “This is one of those times when she did not wish to comment because it is important that Cabinet members focus on negotiating the best