Boris Johnson says he will take personal responsibility if people lose jobs under a no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
9th December 2018

Top Brexiteer Boris Johnson has said he will "of course" take responsibility if workers are laid off in the event Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

The former foreign secretary refused to rule out running against Theresa May in a Tory leadership contest.
Credit: 
BBC

In an impassioned intervention, the former foreign secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that he felt a "deep sense of personal responsibility" for Brexit - and refused to rule out challenging Theresa May for the top job.

While Mr Johnson said he did not "want no-deal" - which ministers have warned could cause major disruption to supply chains and put jobs in peril - he said he would be prepared to stand by its consequences.

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Asked whether he would take personal responsibility for job losses should the UK leave without a deal, he said: "Of course I will. 

"And do not underestimate the deep sense of personal responsibility I feel for Brexit, and for everything that has happened. Do not underestimate how much I care about this."

'WE CAN DO BETTER'

The former Cabinet heavyweight has repeatedly urged the Government to step up its planning for Britain leaving the bloc without an agreement.

And he has insisted that Britain could force Brussels to ditch the proposals for a Northern Ireland backstop that have enraged Conservative Brexiteers.

But Mrs May has stated that the European Union will not accept a deal that does not include the back-up plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson said he believed it would be "relatively simple" to strike a deal without the backstop, saying: "We can do much, much better than this."

And he called on MPs to vote down Mrs May's deal in this week's crucial House of Commons vote in order to give her "a powerful mandate to change that backstop".

"This is where the deals are done," he said. "Nothing is over until it's over."

Mr Johnson added: "Let me put it this way: if the Prime Minister is able to go back to Brussels next week, this week, and say 'I'm afraid that the Irish backstop solution that you have come up with is very unpopular, not just with the country but also with the House of Commons', and if the House of Commons gives, as I think it will, a powerful mandate to change that backstop... then I think... they will listen. 

"Because what they want is the best possible deal with the UK, a deal that keeps their goods and services flowing on either side of the channel. And neither side wants to go out with a no-deal Brexit."

His comments came after Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay flatly denied reports that Mrs May is preparing to postpone this week's Commons vote in favour of heading to Brussels to demand last-minute changes.

'POLITICAL GOSSIP'

Elsewhere in his interview, Mr Johnson said it was "nonsense" to suggest he was putting his own political ambitions above the national interest by attacking Mrs May's deal.

But he pointedly refused to rule out running against her in a Conservative  leadership contest.  

Asked to give an "absolute, categorical reassurance" that he would not stand against Mrs May, the leading Brexiteer would only say: "I will give you an absolute, categorical promise that I will continue to advocate what I think is the most sensible plan... I'm going to offer you the most sensible plan to get out of this mess."

He also dismissed claims he has been approaching Tory MPs with an offer of jobs in a government he might lead. 

"I can tell you - that's nonsense," he said. "But if you want to reduce this debate to personalities and political gossip then that's obviously open to you. 

"But I think, actually, what people want to hear, is how do we get out of the mess of the backstop."