John­son Quits UK Gov’t, Urges Ref­er­en­dum


LON­DON (Reuters) - Jo John­son, the younger brother of Boris, re­signed from Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s govern­ment on Fri­day, call­ing in a with­er­ing cri­tique for an­other ref­er­en­dum to avoid her Brexit plans un­leash­ing Bri­tain’s great­est cri­sis since World War Two.

Quit­ting as a ju­nior trans­port min­is­ter, John­son called May’s Brexit plans delu­sional and said he could not vote for the deal she is ex­pected to un­veil in par­lia­ment within weeks.

“Bri­tain stands on the brink of the great­est cri­sis since the Sec­ond World War,” said John­son, a for­mer Fi­nan­cial Times jour­nal­ist who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

John­son, 46, called it the worst fail­ure of state­craft since the 1956 Suez canal cri­sis, in which Bri­tain was hu­mil­i­at­ingly forced by the United States to with­draw its troops from Egypt.

“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 said.

“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,” he added.

John­son’s crit­i­cism un­der­scored the tra­vails that May faces in get­ting any Brexit di­vorce deal, which Lon­don and Brus­sels say is 95 per­cent done, ap­proved by her own frac­tious party.

The pound sank to a day’s low be­neath $1.30 on the res­ig­na­tion and also fell against the euro. It was un­clear whether oth­ers would fol­low John­son out of govern­ment.

In the June 2016 ref­er­en­dum, 17.4 mil­lion vot­ers, or 51.9 per­cent, backed leav­ing the EU while 16.1 mil­lion, or 48.1 per­cent, backed stay­ing.

John­son wants a three-way ref­er­en­dum giv­ing the peo­ple a choice be­tween re­main­ing in the EU, May’s deal and no deal.

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