Tory minister Jo Johnson quits government over Brexit and calls for a second EU vote

Jo Johnson has resigned as transport minister over Brexit
Jo Johnson has resigned as transport minister over Brexit

Tory transport minister Jo Johnson has resigned from the government over Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s younger brother said that Theresa May’s proposed deal being finalised ‘would be a terrible mistake’ and called for a second referendum on EU membership.

He said Britain was ‘barrelling towards an incoherent Brexit that is going to leave us trapped in a subordinate relationship to the EU’.

Therefore, it was ‘imperative’ to ‘go back to the people and check they are content to proceed on this extraordinary basis’.

His brother Boris – who also quit Mrs May’s Cabinet over Brexit – immediately backed Jo over the government’s ‘intellectually and politically indefensible’ position of the government.

Unlike Boris, a leading Leave campaigner, Jo Johnson voted to remain in the EU.

Boris Johnson quit as foreign secretary in July.

Jo Johnson’s resignation appears to have taken Westminster by surprise and is yet another blow to the prime minister’s faltering government as it tries to strike a deal with Brussels over Britain leaving the European Union.

The resignation is likely to increase pressure on Theresa May (PA)
The resignation is likely to increase pressure on Theresa May (PA)

‘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,’ said Jo Johnson in an online article sent to journalists.

He said the public were being offered ‘an agreement that will leave our country economically weakened’.

He added that the deals on offer could ‘inflict untold damage on our nation’.

In such circumstances, he argued, there must be a second EU referendum, he said.

‘On this most crucial of questions, I believe it is entirely right to go back to the people and ask them to confirm their decision to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, to give them the final say on whether we leave with the prime minister’s deal or without it,’ he said.

‘To do anything less will do grave damage to our democracy.’

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For good measure he added that Mrs May’s handling of Brexit ‘is a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis’.

His resignation comes as it is thought that a special cabinet meeting could be held early next week for ministers to approve the government’s draft agreement on the terms of the UK’s exit.

But Mrs May will then have to convince many in her own party, as well as others, she has negotiated a good deal before Britain’s planned EU exit next March.