'NO way MPs will approve EU deal’ May faces DOUBLE REVOLT in Brexit battle

Posted on Nov 10 2018 - 7:01pm by admin

His bold move at such a critical point in the Government’s efforts to strike an exit deal with Brussels that Parliament will back by Christmas will spark fears in Number 10 that the PM could lose more members of her team in coming days. The popular minister for transport and London said he was quitting to be free to vote against Mrs May’s “terrible” proposed Brexit deal and  lobby for a fresh referendum on whether to leave the European Union. In harsh terms he accused the Government of “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis”.

Downing Street tersely dismissed his demands, insisting the 2016 referendum would be respected.

Allies of the Prime Minister said she would not be distracted by the resignation from her “sensible and pragmatic” efforts to find a way through the Brexit talks deadlock, in the national interest.

But the resignation made clear she now faces a potentially lethal double revolt when she tries to get any deal with Brussels approved in the House of Commons as Remain backing Tories step up their own opposition to the likely terms of her deal to join their much noisier Brexiteer colleagues who also loathe it.

There has been speculation that Mrs May could be ready to unveil her draft deal within days.

Jo Johnson resigned today (Image: GETTY)

But the timetable was further put in doubt as her team spent the day fighting to reassure her Democratic Unionist Party partners that she is not about to agree an EU deal that could one day put a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The DUP’s 10 MPs are pledged to prop up Mrs May’s minority administration in key votes.

But it has said it will oppose against any Brexit deal that is not in Northern Ireland’s interests and a leaked letter yesterday sparked fears the PM is willing to break her pledge not to do anything that puts the union of the UK at risk.

Mr Johnson’s resignation came out of the blue.

Brother: Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson (Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

He shares older brother Boris’s blond hair but is otherwise a marked contrast, cutting a much more studious and less flamboyant figure than his famous sibling as well as being on the opposite side of the Brexit debate.

However, his resignation statement suggested he has as much flair for eye-catching language as journalist Boris.

He said the terms of the deal Mrs May is putting together – over which Boris Johnson quit as Foreign Secretary in July –  was “a terrible mistake” and would plunge Britain into “vassalage”.

The only other choice on offer was to vote against it and spark the “chaos” of crashing out of the EU with no deal.

RESIGNED: Jo Johnson qui his role as the Minister of Transport (Image: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“This is not taking back control. It is a surrender of control. It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016.”

Jo Johnson

“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.

“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 Tweeted his “boundless admiration as ever for my brother Jo. We may not have agreed about Brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible of the UK position.

“This is not taking back control. It is a surrender of control. It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016.”

Their pro-Remain sister the television personality Rachel Johnson, who backs a second vote, Tweeted her pride in her “honourable and principled brother Jo who has put the interests of the country ahead of his political career”. 

A Downing Street spokesman said: “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.” 

Labour noted that he was the 18th minister to quit Mrs May’s administration since last year’s election – showing she had “lost all authority, is in office but not in power”.

Jo Johnson described PM’s Brexit deal as “terrible” (Image: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Pro-Remain Tories warmly praised his resignation.

Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said it was time for all Conservative MPs “as Jo Johnson has done, to look deep inside their consciences, to reflect deeply on their responsibilities, and do the right thing for future generations”.

But euro-sceptics said he was wrong to call for a new referendum.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis, who also quit in July over Mrs May’s Brexit plans, said Mr Johnson was right to say the proposals were a “travesty of Brexit” but a second referendum was “not the way forward and is not supported by the public”.

British PM Theresa May was in Belgium and in France today to mark the centenary of the WW1 armistice (Image: Francois Mori/Pool/ REUTERS)

Mr Davis’s former chief of staff and ex-MP Stewart Jackson noted there had been a first referendum in 1975 to back staying in the EU as he Tweeted: “The 2nd Referendum took place on 23/6/2016. Leave won. 

“We need a PM with vision, optimism & commitment to drive a proper bargain via a free trade deal which we promised to deliver. If Theresa May can’t do that she needs to stand down. A 3rd referendum would be terribly divisive.”

Pro-Brexit Tory former Cabinet Minister John Redwood said: “I agree with Jo Johnson that it’s a rotten deal. A very large number of Conservative MPs will be against it. But I don’t agree we need a new vote. We just need to leave the EU.”

Mark  Francois, vice chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs said the new resignation, following Sport Minister Tracey Crouch’s last week over gambling laws, showed a government that “isn’t happy within itself” – and there was also “absolutely no way” Mrs May’s Brexit blueprint would get approved by MPs.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis also quit in July over PM’s Brexit plan (Image: Steve Parsons/ WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Mrs May – in Belgium and France for sombre Armistice ceremonies at the start of a weekend of events to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War – was already facing a new Brexit crisis over the future of Northern Ireland.

A leaked letter from her top the DUP was seen as a suggestion she could agree to the possibility of a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK being written into the legal exit deal with Brussels.

The EU’s proposed “backstop to the backstop” would leave the Province tied to the EU single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse.

The EU wants it agreed as an insurance policy  to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. 

Aftermath of Brexit in 2016: (L to R) David Davies, Boris Johnson, PM Theresa May (Image: Peter Nicholls/ WPA Pool /Getty Images)

The PM is already struggling to get agreement over the original backstop, in which the whole UK would stay in the customs union if necessary until a permanent solution was found to keep the Irish border open for trade after Brexit.

It is the last stumbling block to striking an exit deal to be voted on by Parliament along with the outline of a future trade partnership deal.

At an Anglo-Irish summit on the Isle of Man, Irish PM Leo Varadkar said a deal was possible in the next couple of weeks and Mrs May’s de facto deputy David Lidington said he hoped MPs would rally behind it. 

But DUP leader Arlene Foster said she feared the PM was now “wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea” despite Downing Street’s repeated assurances to the contrary.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar (L) and the President of the EU Council Donald Tusk (Image: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Mrs May insisted in her letter that she “could not accept there being any circumstances or conditions in which that ‘backstop to the backstop’, which would break up the UK customs territory, could come in to force.”

But she acknowledged that the “unique circumstances” of the area “could require specific alignment solutions in some scenarios” on regulations – sparking DUP fears that Northern Ireland-only  measures will be written into the exit deal and thus could become reality.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said “we want to trust the PM (but) you have to judge any promise by what is actually delivered in an agreement”.

Mr Lidington insisted: “The Prime Minister has always been very clear we won’t accept something that involves carving out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “We’ve always said that we can’t accept the EU Commission’s proposal for a Northern Ireland-specific solution, because we are Unionists and we won’t agree anything which puts our Union at risk.”

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