‘UK MPs will back deal with Brussels’
AGREEMENT on a Brexit deal with Brussels will create a ‘new dynamic’ in the British parliament which would help secure support for Theresa May’s plans, a key ally of hers has claimed.
As the DUP threatened to vote against any deal that has the potential to create a border in the Irish Sea, David Lidington, Mrs May’s de facto deputy prime minister, said he hoped that once a deal was on the table MPs would rally behind it.
Attending the British-Irish Council summit in the Isle of Man with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Lidington said a UK-EU deal would involve ‘compromises, give and take on all sides’.
However, when faced with ‘product on the table’ in the form of an agreement backed by all 28 governments, there could be a shift in attitude at Westminster, he predicted.
‘People will need to ask themselves what is it that is going to be in the best interests of those who sent them to Westminster to represent them, to ensure that we maintain living standards and investment and prosperity and employment in our country,’ he said. ‘I hope and I believe that we can secure that majority in parliament for the agreement.’
However, Mr Lidington’s words were undermined hours later when the British minister of state for transport, Jo Johnson, resigned from Mrs May’s government in protest at her Brexit plan. Despite being a brother of former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson – a firm Brexiteer – Jo Johnson had campaigned for Remain in the referendum. He said the UK faced a choice between ‘vassalage’ under her proposed deal or the ‘chaos’ of crashing out of the EU.
In a blog, he wrote: ‘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.’
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.’
Resigned: Jo Johnson
Optimist: David Lidington