Thursday, 23 May, 2019

British govt minister quits over Brexit, calls for new vote

Jo Johnson resigns as minister over Brexit | London Jo Johnson warns people Kent of no deal Brexit as he quits ministerial role
Deanna Wagner | 11 November, 2018, 01:50

Jo Johnson has signalled that more ministers may be poised to quit over Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans.

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.

European Union envoys were reportedly briefed on Friday that there is a mutual understanding of what the review mechanism should look like, as well as convergence on the Irish backstop plan, which would ensure there's no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland once Brexit is delivered.

"If these negotiations have achieved little else, they have at least united us in fraternal dismay".

Downing Street said last night it would not agree to a second referendum vote under any circumstances and reiterated a promise not to sign the United Kingdom up to any deal which could return a hard border to Northern Ireland.

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

Unless the government and the European Union intentionally change course, Brexit will happen by force of law on March 29 next year, with or without a deal.

Johnson's criticism underscored the travails that May faces in getting any Brexit divorce deal, which London and Brussels say is 95 percent done, approved by her own fractious party.

"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", he added.

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Mr Johnson said his role as transport minister had caused him concern about the impact of a no-deal outcome.

"My loyalty to my party is undimmed", Johnson added.

As campaigners step up pressure on the government calling for the public to be given another say on Brexit, the opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn dashed campaigners' hopes he could back another referendum. "But my duty to my constituents and our great nation has forced me to act".

The MP for Orpington, who left his post as Transport Minister on Friday, said that those in government will be "reflecting hard" about whether or not to follow in his footsteps.

"Brexit has divided the country".

"The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country's history", the spokesman said. "We know a General Election is their first choice, question becomes what is their second choice - exit or referendum".

But now there are fears more high profile ministers could follow the Johnson brothers out of the door.

A senior source in the People's Vote campaign told Business Insider last week that up to three Conservative MPs would declare support for another referendum this month.