WATCH: Tory minister says he would 'definitely' resign to stop no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
8th January 2019

A business minister has said he would quit the Government to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

The Business minister said his view was "not uncommon" among colleagues.
Credit: 
PA

Richard Harrington told BBC's Newsnight he would "definitely" resign to block a no-deal - and hinted that more ministers could be prepared to go in a bid to prevent such an outcome.

Asked if he would resign as a minister to stop a no-deal Brexit, Mr Harrington said: "Definitely, I would."

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He added: "The Prime Minister knows everyone’s views and I think my view is not an uncommon one.

"But we fully support the Prime Minister’s deal and I think it will get through."

Mr Harrington's comments come after Justice Secretary David Gauke said he would find it "very difficult" to stay in Government if it opted for a no-deal outcome, which the Treasury and Bank of England have warned could cause major disruption to the UK economy.

Ministers will today face a fresh Commons showdown over the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, with Labour today set to back a cross-party bid to thwart the Treasury's planning for a no-deal Brexit.

The opposition is poised to support a backbench amendment to the Finance Bill tabled by Yvette Cooper that would curb the Government's tax powers unless it rules out going down that path.

The amendment - which will be seen as a key test of parliamentary opposition to a no-deal Brexit - already has the backing of prominent Conservative MPs including Nicky Morgan, Sarah Wollaston, Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as senior Labour MPs Hilary Benn, Rachel Reeves, Harriet Harman and David Hanson.

The amendment would mean that a clause in the Finance Bill designed to allow the government to collect taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit could only kick in either if a Brexit deal is agreed, Article 50 is extended, or the Commons explicitly votes to back leaving the EU without a deal.

HAGUE URGES NO-DEAL 'REALISM'

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague has meanwhile hit back at claims by leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson that leaving without a deal is the "closest to what people voted for" when they went to the polls in the 2016 EU referendum.

Writing in the Telegraph today, the Tory grandee urged his colleagues to have the "humility and realism to acknowledge" the risks of a no-deal exit.

He said: "Tariffs would be applied immediately to goods traded between the UK and the EU, and a common-sense assumption would be that this would mean many higher prices or less business.

"The car industry relies on its components moving seamlessly across the Channel. The supermarkets only have one and a half days’ supply in stock at any time. Millions of people on both sides would have their legal status and healthcare thrown into jeopardy.

"We would lose the ability to track criminals into the rest of Europe, and so on – a list like this soon becomes a long one."

On Mr Johnson's claim of a no-deal representing the closest form of Brexit to 2016 vote, Lord Hague said: "I seem to remember many assurances at that time that it would not be too difficult to reach a deal with the EU, and even that a trade deal with them would be the easiest ever negotiated.

"Major risks and uncertainty for businesses and families were not part of the promises presented to them."

Mr Johnson had used his own weekly column in the same paper to blast the Government's "doom-laden predictions" about the impact of a no-deal outcome, arguing: "Far from terrifying the public into accepting the Prime Minister’s deal, these threats are increasing a determination to reject it."