CRISIS FOR PM AS BORIS BROTHER WALKS OUT
Minister savages Chequers deal as ‘fake Brexit’ and demands second referendum
BORIS Johnson’s brother rocked the Government yesterday by resigning as a minister to demand a second referendum. Jo Johnson said he agreed with his Brexiteer sibling that Theresa May’s proposed deal with Brussels was a ‘terrible mistake’ as well as a fake. But unlike his brother, who quit as foreign secretary to campaign for a hard Brexit, the Remainsupporting transport minister said voters should have another chance to remain in the EU.
He also insisted his resignation was ‘not part of a plot’ to help his brother reach No 10. Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail he wished the
Prime Minister well but said voters would never forgive the Tories if they backed her ‘fake fudge’ Brexit.
Announcing his dramatic resignation, Mr Johnson said the outcome of talks with the EU were a ‘failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis’. He added: ‘The stakes are so high that if we proceed with this con and do a fake Brexit, we will never be forgiven for this mess.’
Ominously for Downing St, the broadside drew praise from both Leavers and Remainers in the Conservative Party.
His brother Boris tweeted: ‘We may not have agreed about Brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible UK position.
‘This is not taking back control. It is a surrender of control. It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016.’ On a difficult day for Mrs May: The DUP accused her of betrayal and said it would vote against her EU withdrawal agreement;
Diplomatic sources said Brussels talks were still at a standstill;
Mrs May held talks with Emmanuel Macron of France;
Tory MPs warned her she faces ‘open rebellion’ if Britain’s fishing waters are not protected.
Mr Johnson’s resignation came out of the blue just after 4pm yesterday. Although he did not speak to the PM, he informed Downing St officials and explained his decision with an online video and 1,600-word article. He said Mrs May’s plans would leave the country in ‘never-ending purgatory’ of having to follow EU rules it could not influence.
MPs would be forced to choose between the ‘vassalage’ of the deal and the ‘chaos of no deal’, he argued.
One source said the Prime Minister was unaware of his decision because she was attending Armistice memorial events.
Speaking to the Mail, Mr Johnson explained his call for a second referendum, saying it would not be a rerun of 2016.
He said it was time to ask voters: ‘Do we want the deal that the Prime Minister has negotiated, do we want to crash out with no deal at all, or do we want to stay where we are?’ Mr Johnson said a second referendum was perfectly feasible and not as complicated as critics had made out.
Downing St hit back immediately, a spokesman saying: ‘The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country’s history. We will not under any circumstances have a second referendum. The Prime Minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in government.’
One Whitehall source said Mr Johnson, who was moved earlier this year from higher education to transport, had ‘never wanted that job in the first place’.
He is the second Remain-supporting minister to quit this year, following justice minister Phillip Lee in June. It brings to 18 the number to resign since Mrs May entered No 10 in 2016.