Jo Johnson MP will tomorrow (Thursday) urge Conservative MPs to oppose a Brexit deal that will long term damage to both their party and the country.
In his first major speech since resigning in opposition to the Prime Minister’s proposed deal, the former minister will warn MPs: “The time for parlour games about alternative types of Brexit you would most like to see… is over. The country can’t afford to waste more time going down blind alleys.”
Mr Johnson, who will be speaking alongside two other former Conservative ministers, Justine Greening and Lord Willetts, will say: “This is the worst of all worlds. There is a natural opportunity, now that the deal is agreed, for us to check that the country wants us to proceed on this basis. Now is the time to ensure we have public support for this major decision in our nation’s history.”
He will reiterate why he cannot support a proposed deal that offers a “double whammy” of “economic harm and the giving up of British sovereignty” – while underlining that an “anarchic no deal” departure from the EU would also be disastrous for the country and the Party.
Mr Johnson will say: “The Conservative Party’s reputation for economic competence would be undermined by implementing a botched Brexit, especially one that the Government’s own analysis suggests will cause economic harm.
“Brexit is seen as a project driven by the Conservative Party and this half-baked, worst of all worlds Brexit could trigger an electoral defeat on the scale of 1997 or worse, with this “Tory Brexit” label an albatross around our necks for years to come.”
But Mr Johnson will go on to stress that the “only three real options for the country” are the PM’s deal, “no deal” or a People’s Vote. He will say: “All other options share a common characteristic: they do not exist, they have not been negotiated, they have no prospect of being negotiated, and if they were tried, they would hit exactly the same obstacles with the EU that the PM's deal already has.”
He will outline concerns with other alternatives that have been floated in recent days, including the so-called “Norway Forever” option favoured by some in Parliament. Mr Johnson will say that even if was possible to negotiate “it is hard to see a majority in Parliament for a policy which combines the continuation of free movement of people and no say in EU decision making”.
“Norway Forever is tantamount to full EU membership with no voting rights. Anyone who objects to the PM’s deal because it leaves us in a subordinate relationship to the EU should dislike Norway Forever even more. It is a self-defeating form of Brexit, which no self-respecting Parliament should touch with a bargepole.
“Nothing more resembles an “establishment stitch-up” than MPs in Westminster voting for a Brexit-in-name-only that ties the UK indefinitely to every single rule and regulation from the European Union except the one that, as a full member, gives us the right to have some say in the making of them.”
Instead, Mr Johnson will explain why he backs the campaign for the public to have the final say on the deal, saying: “Far from seeking to frustrate the popular will, giving the public the final say would give voice to it at a crucial and fragile time for our democracy.
“That’s why I hope the PM herself will come to see the wisdom of letting the public have the final say. The only way out of this terrible mess is a move to allow the British people to think again about Brexit, and to base their decision on facts rather than fantasy. That is the course that Parliament should allow them to take. I urge all my colleagues to give the British people that choice”.