Minister Jo Johnson quits over Brexit and calls for new vote


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Jo Johnson has quit as transport agent and called for the public to have a fresh say on Brexit.

The MP, who is Boris Johnson’s confrere, said the withdrawal deal being negotiated with the European Confederacy “will be a terrible mistake”.

Arguing Britain was “on the brink of the greatest moment” since World War Two, he said what was on offer wasn’t “anything equivalent to what was promised”.

Downing Street thanked him for his work but ruled out another referendum.

Jo Johnson voted to stay behind in the EU in the 2016 referendum while his brother Boris, who quit as foreign secretary in July, was a peerless Brexiteer.

His brother praised his decision, saying they were “mutual in dismay” at the PM’s handling of the negotiations.

Cabinet ministers have been invited this week to impute to the UK’s draft withdrawal deal with the EU. Theresa May has said the withdrawal understanding large is 95% done – but there is no agreement yet on how to guarantee no hard border in Northern Ireland.

On Friday the DUP, whose prop up Theresa May relies on for votes in the Commons, said they cannot champion any deal which included the possibility that Northern Ireland liking be treated differently from the rest of the UK.

Mr Johnson, the MP for Orpington in Kent, pronounced the choice being finalised was either:

  • an agreement which would turn ones back on the UK “economically weakened with no say in the EU rules it must follow”, or
  • a “no-deal Brexit” which desire “inflict untold damage on our nation”.

He described this as “a failure of British statecraft unseen since the Suez emergency” but said even a no-deal Brexit “may well be better than the never-ending purgatory” being put foster by the prime minister.

But in a warning to his brother and fellow Brexiteers, he added: “Inflicting such grave economic and political harm on the country will leave an indelible idea of incompetence in the minds of the public.”

The “democratic thing to do is to give the public the immutable say”, he argued.

Serious impact?

Analysis by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

For some all together, Jo Johnson has struggled with the unfolding reality of Brexit.

A well-respected and liked fellow of the government, he has decided that what was promised to people during the referendum crusade is now so different to what is on the table that he has quit the government instead.

He’s not the start with, nor the best-known minister to resign over Brexit. But to leave at this prominence, right when Theresa May is trying to stitch together a final stock, could have a serious impact.

Read Laura’s full blog

He added: “This whim not be about re-running the 2016 referendum, but about asking people whether they thirst to go ahead with Brexit now that we know the deal that is in reality available to us, whether we should leave without any deal at all or whether being on balance would rather stick with the deal we already arrange inside the European Union.

“Britain stands on the brink of the greatest danger since the Second World War. My loyalty to the party is undimmed. I have not at any time rebelled on any issue before now.

“But my duty to my constituents and our great nation has artificial me to act.”

‘Authority lost’

In response, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The referendum in 2016 was the biggest republican exercise in this country’s history. We will not under any circumstances sire a second referendum.

“The prime minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in regulation.”

Mr Johnson is the sixth minister in Theresa May’s government to resign specifically as a remainder Brexit, following David Davis, Boris Johnson, Philip Lee, Steve Baker and Guto Bebb.

For Wage-earners, Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman said Mrs May had “lost all powers that be and is incapable of negotiating a Brexit deal within her own party, let alone with the EU”.

But provoke b requested in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel whether he would terminal Brexit if he had the chance, Jeremy Corbyn replied: “We can’t stop it, the referendum lay ones hands oned place.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, whose party supports easy reaches for a “People’s Vote” on the final deal, said: “We warmly welcome Jo Johnson’s hold up under of the campaign to give the people the final say on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit.

“This is a transfixing situation in which Jo and his sister are united in opposing their brother Boris and his Brexit schemes.”

Brexiteer Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns tweeted that she did not agree with him helter-skelter another referendum – but his intervention highlighted unease on both sides of the discuss, with the PM’s efforts to secure a deal.

And pro-Remain Conservative Anna Soubry upheld his decision and said it was time for another referendum.

David Davis, who desist from as Brexit Secretary over Mrs May’s Chequers Brexit plan, tweeted:

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