JOHNSON HINTS MORE COULD QUIT
JO JOHNSON has signalled that more ministers may be poised to quit over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Mr Johnson, whose bombshell resignation as transport minister took Westminster by surprise, said if other senior Tories followed suit, “good on them”.
Calling for a second referendum to be held on Brexit, Mr Johnson denounced the choice between Mrs May’s deal plans or a no-deal scenario as a “failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis” that had left Britain facing “vassalage” or “chaos”.
Asked whether other ministers should quit over the issue, Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think this is so important that it’s up to MPs to take a stand.
“I’ve done so, if others feel that it’s right for them to do so, good on them.”
He added: “It’s for each MP come to his or her own view.
“This is one of the most momentous questions we will ever face in our political careers. to
“And everybody hard about it.
“Of course I talk to colleagues across Parliament and those conversations always remind me of how deeply MPs think about their responsibilities, and I know many are reflecting hard about the deal that’s looming and how they will respond to it.
“But it’s obviously for each of them to work out how best to respond to those questions.”
Mr Johnson insisted his resignation was not an attempt to oust the PM.
“My priority is really just to do my bit as a now backbench MP to try and encourage the country to pause and reflect before we do something that is irrevocably stupid.”
Calling for a new referendum, Mr Johnson said: “My view is that this is so different from what was billed that it would be an absolute travesty if we do not go back to the people and ask them if they actually do want to exit is thinking very the EU on this extraordinarily hopeless basis.”
Asked if his brother Boris Johnson had lied to voters during the referendum about Brexit, the former transport minister said: “In the campaign there were undoubtedly promises made that have shown to be undeliverable. No one can dispute that.”
Mr Johnson said his role as transport minister had caused him concern about the impact of a no-deal outcome.
Mrs May is also under pressure from the DUP over her Brexit plans, as well as Eurosceptic Tories.
But calls for a second Brexit referendum have been attacked by ex-first secretary of state Damian Green.
He told the Today programme: “My basic disagreement with Jo is about the need for a second referendum. I think a second referendum would be divisive, but it wouldn’t be decisive. All the evidence is that the country is still, more or less, split down the middle.”
Prominent Brexiteer Jacob ReesMogg also criticised attempts to force a new poll on EU membership.
Asked if he could agree with Mr Johnson’s call for a new referendum, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Not really, no.
“The referendum took place. The issue now has to be how we bring people together, bring people together around the principles of our economy, our rights and that we don’t turn this country into some kind of offshore tax haven on the lines that Donald Trump might want us to.”
Mr Corbyn said any Brexit deal brought to the Commons by the Government would need to be measured against Labour’s six tests for a withdrawal agreement.
He said: “We will test the Government against our six questions. Our six points will be put to them and we will vote accordingly. If it means we vote against the Government, we vote against the Government.
“If it’s defeated, it means they’ve got a choice – either go back and negotiate something better or resign.”
He added: “They’re questions about the benefits to every part of the UK. They’re questions about the Northern Ireland border, they’re questions about the kind of regulatory framework in which we’ll live. I think those things are very important and, surely, it’s the duty of Parliament and duty of the opposition to hold the Government to account on this and that’s what we’ll do.”
Jo Johnson has resigned as transport minister over Brexit, saying the deal being finalised ‘will be a terrible mistake’