Jo Johnson has resigned from Theresa May’s Government in protest at her Brexit plan, warning the UK 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 no-deal 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.”
Boris Johnson said he had “boundless admiration” for his brother Jo, who has quit as a minister over Theresa May’s handling of Brexit.
The former foreign secretary and his Remain-supporting brother were on opposite sides of the Brexit divide but were “united in dismay” at the “intellectually and politically indefensible” UK position. Labour said Jo Johnson was the 18th minister to resign from Mrs May’s administration since the election and it showed she was “in office, but not in power”.
Jo Johnson said the choice being offered was between a “travesty of Brexit” under the deal being thrashed out by the Prime Minister and the EU, or the “untold damage” of a no-deal Brexit.
He said the public should be given the chance to vote again on whether they want Brexit, and if so whether they accept what is on offer or choose to leave without a deal.