Jo Johnson has dramatically quit as the transport minister in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plan and called for a Final Say referendum to give the choice to the people.
The brother of Boris Johnson – and Remain supporter – accused the prime minister of bungling the negotiations with a “failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.”
He warned there was now a “great gulf” between the promises the prime minister had made and what was “on offer’ in her proposals.
“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.”
And, becoming the ninth Tory MP to back a fresh referendum, he wrote: “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.
“This would not be about re-running the 2016 referendum, but about asking people whether they want to go ahead with Brexit now that we know the deal that is actually available to us, whether we should leave without any deal at all or whether people on balance would rather stick with the deal we already have inside the European Union.”
Other Conservative supporters of a Final Say referendum were quick to react. Heidi Allen tweeted: “Hats off to @JoJohnsonUK, putting his country first. If we don’t know what our future trade deal with the EU will look like, MPs shouldn’t support it.”
Anna Soubry tweeted: “Huge respect for @JoJohnsonUK. It’s tough resigning from a Ministerial post, he’s done the right thing. Now is the time for people to stand up for what they believe in or we will sleepwalk to a #Brexit disaster.
And Justine Greening said: “Well done to @JoJohnsonUK on standing up for what he believes in. He was a fantastic Minister to work with whilst we were at the DfE. It’s a sad loss for Gvt, but Brexit is above party politics.
Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, said Mr Johnson was the 18th minister to quit Ms May’s government, adding: “She has lost all authority and is incapable of negotiating a Brexit deal within her own party, let alone with the EU.”
The resignation came after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) warned it was poised to vote against any Brexit deal, accusing the prime minister of betraying her promise not to sign a withdrawal deal which could allow a customs border in the Irish Sea.
Downing Street issued a short statement, saying: “The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country’s history.
“We will not under any circumstances have a second referendum. The prime minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in government.”
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