LONDON (Reuters) – Former PM Jo Johnson said some colleagues were considering giving up Theresa May's Brexit plan after his dramatic resignation put the UK Prime Minister's deal at risk.
British MP Jo Johnson is leaving the BBC Broadcasting House on 10 November 2018 in London, UK. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
The young minister of transport – and younger brother of former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson – published a fierce criticism of May's May Brexit deal on Friday when he unexpectedly quit. He said that the country should retire.
On Saturday, he also attacked the "fantasy promises" made by Brexit activists and his brother during the referendum.
The gap between her and May's vision was now so great that it would be a "democratic travesty" if the public were not consulted in a new vote.
"This is one of the most important questions we will ever face in our political career," he told BBC Radio on Saturday.
"I know that many are thinking about the upcoming deal and how they will respond."
Jo Johnson's intervention was all the stronger as he had previously voted to remain in the block. His departure carries the risk that other EU ministers have failed against Brevisite, and Brexiteers have already pledged to vote against.
Criticism underscores the upcoming battle as May seeks to reach an agreement that is acceptable to the various factions of her deeply divided party and the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party on which she leans.
May has preferred to maintain the free movement of goods with Europe, but many critics say Britain will be subject to decisions taken in Brussels without any input from London.
The talks with the EU negotiators are scheduled to resume on Sunday. Less than five months before Britain leaves the EU on 29 March, negotiations on a land border plan between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland are still pending should they not reach a long-term agreement.
"It's in short supply, but the political situation in Britain hangs on a thread," said a diplomat familiar with a EU briefing by national envoys on Friday to Reuters.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said on Saturday that her ten legislators could not vote for the deal because "he would handcuff the UK to the EU, with the EU holding the keys".
Trade Minister Liam Fox, UK Trade Minister, said Britain can not agree if no solution can be found.
Jo Johnson, a former Financial Times journalist who is far less widely known than his brother, said he could not accept that Parliament had to choose between a May deal and a deal that would endanger the economy.
He said that May's proposal had brought the country to the brink of the biggest crisis since World War II, and that it was his priority to prevent the country from doing something "irrevocably stupid".
"The campaign undoubtedly made promises that turned out to be undeliverable," he said.
"They are so fundamentally different from Brexit, which was billed during the referendum, that I think it would be a democratic travesty if we did not return to the people and ask for their consent for our withdrawal from the EU on this basis. "
Downing Street has said that there will not be a second referendum.
Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; Edited by Kirsten Donovan and Hugh Lawson