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Jo Johnson accuses brother Boris of making 'fantasy' Brexit promises after dramatic resignation

3 min read

Jo Johnson has accused his brother Boris of selling the public a "false prospectus" on Brexit after dramatically resigning as a minister.

The Remain-backing Mr Johnson - who quit as transport minister last night with a swipe at Theresa May's "travesty" Brexit proposals and a call for a second referendum - said Brexiteers had offered only "a fantasy set of promises" that had proved "undeliverable".

He told the Today programme: "We were promised a Brexit that would enable us to strike trade deals around the world.

"We are far from that with the deal that the Prime Minister is going to produce.

"We were promised a Brexit that was going to unleash our economy as a sort of, a low-tax Singaporean tiger on the edge of Europe.

"On the contrary, we're signing up to all the rules and regulations that bind the rest of the EU. We're going to end up ceding sovereignty not taking back control."

Asked whether that meant his brother Boris, a leading light of the campaign to leave the EU, had therefore lied to the country, Mr Johnson said: "It was a false prospectus.

"It was a fantasy set of promises that have been shown up for what they were. We're now faced with the reality of that in the form of the deal the Prime Minister is about to bring back before Parliament."


The ex-minister was also pressed on the Conservatives' 2015 manifesto pledge - which he personally authored - to hold an "in out referendum" on Brexit and "honour the result of the referendum, whatever the outcome".

Mr Johnson insisted he remained "very proud" of the document, saying it had helped the Tories to secure their "first majority in almost a quarter of a century"

And he added: "We're not breaking that promise.

"First of all we held the referendum that we committed to hold... And since then, in the following two years, we have been implementing that result and the Prime Minister is about to come back to Parliament with the deal that she's negotiated.

"It's now up to Parliament to decide what to do with that deal."

The former frontbencher meanwhile tore into the Brexit deal set to be secured by the Prime Minister, saying the proposals being floated were "so different from what was billed" in 2016 that it "would be an absolute travesty if we don't go back to the people" for a fresh referendum.


But that drew the ire of top Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said Mr Johnson had made "a great leap" in calling for a second vote on leaving the EU.

"He makes a very good criticism of the Government's negotiating strategy and that the Government has decided to offer us a state of vassalage," the Conservative MP told the same programme.

"Now [the fact that] that the Government has negotiated incompetently does not mean you should reverse the result of the referendum. It means that you should look at getting a better deal."

The exit of a prominent Remain-supporter from the Government heaps fresh pressure on Mrs May just weeks before an expected vote in Parliament on any deal she strikes with Brussels.

Brexiteers have already signalled that they will vote down her plans and Mr Rees-Mogg predicted that the Prime Minister would now have to rely on Labour support to get a deal through the Commons.

"It's been clear I think for some time that the Government can only possibly get a deal through if it has the support of the Labour Party - and not just a few rebels in the Labour Party, but either the wholesale abstention of the Labour Party or its active support," the European Research Group chairman said.

"There will not be enough support on the Conservative benches to get this through."

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