‘New vote’ call as Jo John­son quits

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News -

JO John­son has re­signed from Theresa May’s Gov­ern­ment in protest at her Brexit plan, warn­ing the UK faced a choice be­tween “vas­salage” un­der her pro­posed deal or the “chaos” of crash­ing out of the EU.

Mr John­son quit as trans­port min­is­ter and min­is­ter for Lon­don in or­der to vote against the Brexit deal when­ever it comes be­fore Par­lia­ment and called for the pub­lic to be given a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

The se­nior Tory, who cam­paigned for Re­main, fol­lows his Leave-sup­port­ing brother Boris out of Mrs May’s gov­ern­ment.

The for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary quit in July in protest at Mrs May’s han­dling of Brexit.

In a blog, Jo John­son said: “It has be­come in­creas­ingly clear to me that the with­drawal agree­ment, which is be­ing fi­nalised in Brus­sels and White­hall even as I write, will be a ter­ri­ble mis­take.

“In­deed, the choice be­ing pre­sented to the Bri­tish peo­ple is no choice at all.

“The first op­tion is the one the Gov­ern­ment is propos­ing: an agree­ment that will leave our coun­try eco­nom­i­cally weak­ened, with no say in the EU rules it must fol­low and years of un­cer­tainty for busi­ness.

“The sec­ond op­tion is a no-deal Brexit that I know as a trans­port min­is­ter will in­flict un­told dam­age on our na­tion.

“To present the na­tion with a choice be­tween two deeply unattrac­tive out­comes, vas­salage and chaos, is a fail­ure of Bri­tish state­craft on a scale un­seen since the Suez cri­sis.”

He added: “Given that the re­al­ity of Brexit has turned out to be so far from what was once promised, the demo­cratic thing to do is to give the pub­lic the fi­nal say.”

Boris John­son backed his brother’s de­ci­sion, say­ing: “We may not have agreed about Brexit but we are united in dis­may at the in­tel­lec­tu­ally and po­lit­i­cally in­de­fen­si­ble of the UK po­si­tion.”

Jo John­son ac­knowl­edged that the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions “have at least united us in fra­ter­nal dis­may”.

He ac­knowl­edged a no-deal Brexit could re­sult in “Kent be­com­ing the Lorry Park of Eng­land”, with real ques­tions about guar­an­tee­ing sup­plies of food and medicines.

But even a no-deal Brexit “may well be bet­ter than the never-end­ing pur­ga­tory” that Mrs May’s plan would of­fer.

How­ever, in a pointed mes­sage to his brother and other Brex­i­teers, he said: “In­flict­ing such se­ri­ous eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal harm on the coun­try will leave an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion of in­com­pe­tence in the minds of the pub­lic. It can­not be what you wanted, nor did the 2016 ref­er­en­dum pro­vide any man­date for it.”

He said the pub­lic should be asked to con­firm their de­ci­sion to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, whether to ac­cept Mrs May’s plan or leave with­out a deal.

A Down­ing Street spokesman said: “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.”

Jo John­son has re­signed over Brexit deal ‘chaos’

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