Jo Johnson: ‘Democratic travesty’ not to have another Brexit vote

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Media captionJo Johnson: “It was a fantasy set of promises that have been shown up for what they were.”

The UK needs to “pause and reflect” before doing something “irrevocably stupid” over Brexit, Jo Johnson said a day after quitting as a minister.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today he called again for another referendum, saying what was being offered fell “spectacularly short” of what had been promised.

The ex-transport minister said it would be a “democratic travesty” to not have another vote.

He denied his actions amounted to a coup against the prime minister.

Mr Johnson, who voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, stood down as Theresa May’s prospective deal with Brussels was being presented to Cabinet ministers.

Mr Johnson warned the UK faced a choice between “vassalage” under her proposals and “chaos” if it left the EU without a deal.

The MP for Orpington in Kent said he had “happily taken the decision” to end his own ministerial career and, when asked if he thought other ministers would resign, he said if they thought it was right thing for them to take a stand then “good on them”.

Cabinet ministers have been invited this week to read the UK’s draft withdrawal deal with the EU. Theresa May has said the withdrawal deal is 95% done – but there is no agreement yet on how to guarantee no hard border in Northern Ireland.

Downing Street has insisted there will not be another referendum “under any circumstances”.

In a resignation statement on Friday, Mr Johnson, who is the brother of former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson, argued Britain was “on the brink of the greatest crisis” since World War Two, saying what was on offer wasn’t “anything like what was promised”.

Mr Johnson told Today: “My view is that this is so different from what was billed that it would be an absolute travesty if we do not go back to the people and ask them if they actually do want to exit the EU on this extraordinarily hopeless basis.”

Asked if his brother had lied to voters during the referendum, he said: “In the campaign there were undoubtedly promises made that have shown to be undeliverable. No one can dispute that.”

He added: “It was a false prospectus. It was a fantasy set of promises that have been shown up for what they were. We are now faced with the reality of that in the form of a deal the prime minister is about to bring back before parliament.”

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