Jo Johnson, brother to Boris Johnson, has resigned from government over Theresa May's Brexit plans.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
The MP for Orpington and Minister of State for Transport, Jo Johnson, who is also the Minister for London and the brother of Brexiteer Boris, has resigned from Theresa May's government saying that her plan is a choice between vassalage and chaos.
His surprise resignation has been met with the 'boundless admiration' of his brother, although the two are on different sides of the leave / remain debate. And Jo Johnson is one of those that suggested that the more uneducated people voted to Leave the EU (wonder if he was comparing himself to his brother in that?)
"Boundless admiration as ever for my brother Jo. We may not have agreed about brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible of the UK position."
"This is not taking back control. It is a surrender of control. It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016."
His brother Jo, called the government position "…a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis." And, as a Remainer, he unsurprisingly wants a second referendum on membership of the EU.
Now, since the letter from the PM to the DUP leader Arlene Foster that I talked about this morning was leaked, the government has been trying hard to convince us that Theresa May's Chequers based Brexit In Name Only (BRINO) deal is still a goer. And Jo Johnson obviously doesn't think it is. And I'm sure he will not be the last!
But the Cabinet Minister and de facto deputy to Theresa May, David Lidington, said he was confident that the government would get the deal through parliament.
Speaking earlier today at a meeting of the British-Irish Council, he said that there would be a 'new dynamic' when MPs saw the contents of the deal and that he hoped and believed that a parliamentary majority can be secured. I suppose Jo Johnson is part of that 'new dynamic' then.
And he tried to reassure those concerned, which is most of us, about this proposed backstop to the backstop that could ultimately separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK by saying:
"…the prime minister has always been clear that we won’t accept something that involves carving out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK."
But having seen the extracts of the letter on the web, it seems that the backstop to a backstop clause will be in the agreement – and that means the UK could be tied into an EU customs union for as long as the EU exists.
But cutting through all this gloom, co-founder of Leave Means Leave, John Longworth, says that all roads now point to a full WTO exit and businesses and politicians need to prepare themselves for it.
Writing in the Telegraph he says that Theresa May's deal will be sunk and her with it. And none of the outcomes involve either a general election or a second EU referendum he wrote – it just means a new PM, a new cabinet and fresh Brexit thinking.
As far as he can see, all outcomes end with her failure to get the Chequers Brexit In Name Only deal through and that the hard edge of the fast approaching Brexit Day will ensure a proper Brexit, or a pretty fast Canada style free trade agreement.
Now, here comes a little 'despite Brexit' moment.
The Office for National Statistics has released the latest GDP estimates for the third quarter of 2018 and GDP has …. increased by 0.6% compared to quarter two.
But Eurostat reports that Eurozone GDP growth was just 0.2% in the same period and the GDP growth seen across the whole of the EU28 was 0.3%. And if you took the UK out of that, to leave just the EU27 it would be lower than that.
In reality though, this is not a 'despite Brexit' moment – it is a 'despite the best efforts of Remainers to derail the UK' moment.
Now, here is an example highlighted by the Labour Brexiteer MP Kate Hoey, of how the UK government lets us be taken for a ride. And it concerns fishing, again!
There was an agreement that had lasted for about 50 years to allow fishing vessels from North and South Ireland to operate within each others' territorial waters out to the six mile line so as to ease the tensions relating to access fo fish stocks in the Irish Sea.
However, this 'voisinage' or neighbourhood agreement was never formalised in the Republic of Ireland and although it had worked well, when the Irish government talked about formalising it, South Irish fishermen challenged it in court and it went all the way to the Irish Supreme Court for a decision and, as a result, Northern Irish fishing vessels have been unable to fish in South Irish waters since 2016.
The Irish government did start the process of addressing the issue, but their fishing industry fought it and lobbied the Irish government to stall it – in order to give them Brexit leverage.
It seems that the Irish government agreed and Northern Irish fishing vessels are still prevented from fishing in those waters.
But, although the Republic unilaterally withdrew from this reciprocal agreement, the UK government of course did nothing. Southern Irish fishing vessels still enjoy access to Northern Irish waters because we left our part of the agreement in place!
There is therefore, in effect, a one way hard Irish fishing border! And the UK government does nothing!
And to cap it all, Southern Irish fishermen get 40% of their annual catch from UK waters.
If this is an example of Tory government negotiating, then it would explain the whole Chequers Brexit In Name Only deal! Wouldn't it?
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonUK) November 9, 2018
Boundless admiration as ever for my brother Jo. We may not have agreed about brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible of the UK position 1/2 https://t.co/QI4tMpLecc
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 9, 2018
— Kate Hoey (@KateHoeyMP) November 9, 2018