BORIS JOHNSON saw the Brexit civil war reach his own family yesterday as his younger brother resigned as an MP and minister.
The PM begged Jo to stay on during a late-night heart-to-heart at Downing Street but the universities minister could not be swayed. The MP for Orpington in Kent — who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum and supports a second public vote on Brexit — said he had felt ‘torn between family loyalty and the national interest’.
‘It’s an unresolvable tension and time for others to take on my roles as minister and MP,’ he tweeted.
Mr. Johnson faced questions over the desertion during an appearance at a police college in West Yorkshire, where he delivered a rambling speech in front of ranks of recruits.
He said: ‘Jo doesn’t agree with me about the EU because it’s an issue which divides families and everyone else. But what he would agree with is that we need to sort this out.’
The latest blow to the PM came after he abandoned attempts to derail an opposition bill that rules out a no-deal Brexit on October 31 and is now due to become law on Monday.
Brexiteers had been urged by the government to stop it passing through the Lords by debating it for so long that no vote could be taken before parliament shuts down next week. Peers armed with sleeping bags and Thermos flasks kept going until 1.30 AM yesterday but the bill’s backers then got their way after refusing to give in.
Mr. Johnson said he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than ask the EU for another Brexit delay. He will now try again on Monday to persuade MPs to back holding a snap general election to break the deadlock.
Jeremy Corbyn ruled out agreeing to the request on Monday.
And he could continue to hold out unless the poll is delayed until after October 31. That would stop the PM from overturning the delay bill and going ahead with a no-deal if he wins the election and secures a majority.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: ‘We want an election as well but we want it when we have prevented a no-deal Brexit and, on that basis, we have got to determine the date.’
Mr. Johnson, who met the US vice-president Mike Pence (pictured with him) at Downing Street yesterday, attacked Labour. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,’ he said at the police college. ‘Not only are they making it impossible to leave the EU, they are making it impossible for the people of this country to have an election.’
Jo Johnson became the first minister to have resigned twice over Brexit.
He quit over Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement in January last year but was brought back by Boris.
No.10 praised him and said the PM realized quitting again was a tough decision.
But his brother faced more anger over his ‘purge’ of 21 rebel Tories.
Sir John Major said the party was now a ‘mean-minded sect’. Ex-Tory Nick Boles said rebels had been sacrificed ‘on the altar’ of the prime minister’s ego.