Government minister quits, calls for new Brexit vote
LONDON — A minister in the British government stepped down Friday to protest Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan and is backing calls for a second referendum on whether the country should leave the European Union.
Jo Johnson, younger brother of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said the withdrawal agreement being discussed by EU and British leaders would greatly weaken Britain and require the country to follow EU rules without having any say. The only alternative on the table, he said, is a no-deal Brexit that would “inflict untold damage” on Britain.
“It has become increasingly clear to me that the withdrawal agreement, which is being finalized in Brussels and Whitehall even as I write, will be a terrible mistake,” said Jo Johnson, who was a transport minister in the government.
His older brother Boris resigned in July to protest May’s Brexit plan — but Boris did so as a staunch support of a hard-line Brexit, while Jo Johnson backed the “remain” side during the June, 2016 referendum.
May’s Conservative Party is deeply divided on her approach, and it is not clear if she will win wide backing from opposition Labour Party lawmakers when a proposal is put to Parliament. May is also facing opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.