Boris Johnson in major U-turn as he says he will back Brexit deal after PM says she will quit

Posted On: 
27th March 2019

Boris Johnson has confirmed he will vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal, despite spending months criticising it.

Boris Johnson has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Brexit deal.
Credit: 
PA Images

In a major U-turn, the former Foreign Secretary made the announcement just minutes after the Prime Minister confirmed she will quit if the agreement is passed.

Downing Street hopes to bring the deal back for a third meaningful vote on Friday, the day when the UK was originally meant to leave the EU.

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Mr Johnson confirmed his change of heart at a meeting of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, where several of his colleagues announced that they were also switching to back the deal.

He has previously said Mrs May's deal "wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier".

And as recently as 17 March, he said: "If we agree this deal – and unless we have a radical change in our approach to the negotiations – we face an even greater humiliation in the second phase."

Others who told the ERG meeting they had changed their minds included Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson and Conor Burns, Mr Johnson's former parliamentary aide.

The Bournemouth West MP said that his decision had been sparked by Parliament voting to take control of the Brexit process.

He said: "None of us have changed out mind and think the deal is amazing. It's only palatable in the context of the even worse proposition being taken up by the House, which has never seen the opportunities of Brexit."

However, one Tory MP conceded the many of his eurosceptic colleagues were still opposed to the deal and were "willing to die in a ditch" rather than vote for it.

ERG vice-chairman Steve Baker told the meeting he would still not be voting for the deal and described Mrs May's announcement, which she made at a meeting of Tory MPsm had left him "consumed with a ferocious rage"

"What is our liberty for if not to govern ourselves," he said. "Like all of you I have wrestled with my conscience about what to do.

"I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river. These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand. 

"We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of no Brexit or this deal."

Speaking after the meeting, an ERG spurce said: "There is no way enough votes are coming out of that room to put the withdrawal agreement through."