United Kingdom minister quits over ‘terrible mistake’ of proposed Brexit deal

Mike van Dulken 
#FTSE100 called +20pts at 7138

Mike van Dulken #FTSE100 called +20pts at 7138

"It has become increasingly clear to me that the withdrawal agreement, which is being finalised. will be a awful mistake", Jo Johnson wrote in a stinging resignation statement.

Johnson outlined the reasons behind his decision in an article, accompanied by a video.

Quitting as a junior transport minister, Johnson called May's Brexit plans delusional and said he could not vote for the deal she is expected to unveil in parliament within weeks. It was unclear whether others would follow Johnson out of government.

"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 wrote, adding that from the work of his own Department he was aware that a no-deal scenario could threaten the country's access to fresh food and medicine.

"The second option is a "no deal" Brexit that I know as a transport minister will inflict untold damage on our nation".

Boris Johnson, a leading supporter of Brexit who quit as foreign secretary in July, praised his brother's decision, saying they were "united in dismay" - despite their opposing views on Brexit - over May's handling of the negotiations.

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

A Downing Street spokesman said: 'The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country's history.

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.

But he said a second referendum is "not the way forward and is not supported by the public".

Jo Johnson's resignation is another boost to those calling for a new people's vote referendum on Brexit.

"My brother Boris, who led the "Leave" campaign, is as unhappy with the government's proposals as I am", Jo Johnson said. While Johnson's resignation is likely to spur critics in the Conservative Party, securing a second referendum would also require support from the Labour Party, which is yet to fully clarify its stance on a referendum and what that could entail in terms of the question put to the public.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator told political allies Thursday to beware the rise of populist nationalism in Europe, warning of a "Farage in every country".

Giving his response on Twitter, Boris wrote: "Boundless admiration as ever for my brother Jo".

In contrast to his brother, however, Mr Johnson voted Remain in the European Union referendum, and is now pushing for a second vote on leaving the bloc.

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