Boris John­son’s brother quits, calls for sec­ond vote on Brexit

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Uk And World News - BY DAVID HUGHES

Jo John­son has re­signed from Theresa May’s Gov­ern­ment in protest at her Brexit plan, warn­ing the coun­try 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 John­son 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 ex­plain­ing his de­ci­sion, 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 nodeal 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.”

The news came as a fresh blow to Theresa May’s Brexit plans, which were ear­lier struck by her Demo­cratic Union­ist Party al­lies, who hit out at fears that a deal could im­pose bar­ri­ers be­tween North­ern Ire­land and Great Bri­tain.

DUP leader Ar­lene Foster said the Prime Min­is­ter ap­peared “wed­ded to the idea of a bor­der down the Ir­ish Sea” de­spite Down­ing Street’s re­peated as­sur­ances to the con­trary.

The response of the DUP caused frus­tra­tion in Down­ing Street, with sources in­sist­ing that Mrs May was not hid­ing be­hind “weasel words” and had stressed that she would not ac­cept a deal which saw North­ern Ire­land hived off. The Eu­ro­pean Union’s fall­back pro­posal aimed at avoid­ing a hard bor­der be­tween Ire­land and the UK would ef­fec­tively keep North­ern Ire­land aligned with Brus­sels’ cus­toms union and sin­gle mar­ket. A leaked let­ter from the Prime Min­is­ter in re­ply to an ear­lier mes­sage from Mrs Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, set out Mrs May’s ap­proach. She wants a “back­stop” mea­sure which would cre­ate a tem­po­rary “joint cus­toms ter­ri­tory” with the EU for the whole of the UK.

But Brus­sels ap­pears set to in­sist on a North­ern Ire­landonly “back­stop to the back­stop” in case ne­go­ti­a­tions on a wider UK ap­proach break down or any time limit on it ex­pires.

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