Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance
The DUP and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s group of Brexiteers have united and vowed to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Fifty-one Tories have already signed a pledge opposing Mrs May’s Brexit plans – with concerns a no-deal insurance plan will lead to a border between the UK and Northern Ireland.
Now, the DUP and The European Research Group of backbenchers, chaired by Mr Rees-Mogg, have released an extraordinary joint declaration that they will stop a Brexit deal getting through Parliament if the Union is threatened.
Steve Baker, the group’s deputy chairman and Sammy Wilson, the DUP Brexit spokesman wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘We share the Prime Minister’s ambition for an EU free trade agreement, but not at any price and certainly not at the price of our Union.
‘If the Government makes the historic mistake of prioritising placating the EU over establishing an independent and whole UK, then regrettably we must vote against the deal.’
They added: ‘If Parliament is forced to reject the Government’s deal, then we will once again have called the bluff of vested interest lobbyists and Whitehall scaremongers.’
The extraordinary moves ramps up pressure on Mrs May as she battles to agree a deal with EU that will be acceptable to a majority of MPs.
On Friday the DUP vowed to torpedo the government if Mrs May bows to EU demands on the Irish border ‘backstop’.
The DUP and The European Research Group of backbenchers, chaired by Mr Rees-Mogg (pictured), have declared they will stop a Brexit deal getting through Parliament if the Union is threatened
The party’s leader, Arlene Foster, urged Mrs May to reflect on her Brexit stance as she warned the DUP will oppose her current proposals if they go to a parliamentary vote.
She said ‘no unionist’ could back the apparent advocacy of a withdrawal treaty that includes a Northern Ireland specific backstop measure to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
In a letter to the DUP, which was leaked to the media, Mrs May insisted such a backstop would never come into force.
Mrs Foster said her party was fundamentally opposed to any divorce deal that saw Northern Ireland operate under a different regulatory arrangement to the rest of the UK.
Stormont’s former first minister insisted there were ‘many others’ in the Conservative Party who could also not support the Prime Minister’s proposals.
‘We would not be able to support this if it came to Parliament in the form that it is in the letter,’ the DUP leader said.
On Friday the DUP vowed to torpedo the government if Mrs May bows to EU demands on the Irish border ‘backstop’. Pictured: DUP leader Arlene Foster
‘There are stages to go through before it comes to Parliament. She still has to have a cabinet meeting in relation to this matter and we believe there is a chance for her to reflect on the fact we will not be able to support it in its current form.’
In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Foster was asked did she trust the Prime Minister.
The DUP leader replied: ‘It’s not a question of trusting the Prime Minister, it is a question of what her proposals are for exiting the European Union.
‘She has sent us where she believes she is currently at, and remember this is before she goes to Brussels to negotiate with them on what they believe is possible, but currently, as it stands, we could not support her proposals.
‘Not only would we not be able to support what she has said to us but there are many others who would not be able to support it in her own party as well.’
She denied her party’s confidence and supply deal with the Tories was on ‘shaky ground’.
‘I don’t think it leaves it on shaky ground because of course the confidence and supply agreement was entered into at a time of great national instability, we wanted to see stability in the Government at that time and we also wanted to deliver on a Brexit vote that had been taken.
‘We don’t believe that the Prime Minister’s letter shows that we are delivering on that Brexit vote, so we will have to revisit all of that if this goes to a meaningful vote.’
She said the DUP would be asking for clarification of Mrs May’s intentions in further correspondence being sent to Downing Street on Friday night.
Brexit on the brink? Hammer blows for May as Boris Johnson’s Remainer brother Jo QUITS over her plan with fears others will follow his lead while DUP threatens to COLLAPSE the government
Jo Johnson’s resignation on Friday as Theresa May tries to strike a Brexit deal sparked a call for other Tories to do the same.
The Orpington MP, brother of Boris Johnson, said that the emerging package – which the PM hopes to finalise within days – was a massive failure in British statecraft on the scale of Suez.
It comes as the DUP said it won’t back Theresa May’s apparent advocacy of a Northern Ireland backstop measure to avoid a hard border on Ireland.
If the DUP and Mrs May fail to agree, her government – which relies on the Northern Irish party for a majority – could collapse.
The Prime Minister has suffered an eye-watering 18 resignations since becoming PM in 2016 – although only a handful have been over Brexit.
Orpington MP Mr Johnson said that the package being finalised was a massive failure on the scale of the Suez crisis
Johnson said the ‘reality’ of what was being negotiated was far from what had been promised during the referendum campaign in 2016, and the country was faced with a ‘terrible’ choice between ‘vassalage and chaos’, adding: ‘We are barreling towards an incoherent Brexit’.
Ex-Minister Philip Lee, who is among those who did quit over the EU process, urged other Tories to show the same ‘courage’ as Johnson.
‘Following @JoJohnson’s resignation I call upon my fellow MPs to show the same courage. We must allow our constituents to have a #FinalSay on Brexit. We must speak up now,’ he said.
Mr Johnson said he was resigning from the government ‘with great regret’
The resignation is a massive blow for Theresa May – who was taking part in Armistice events in France and Belgium today (pictured left) and apparently had no advance warning. But it was hailed by Boris Johnson (right) who said he had ‘boundless’ respect for his brother
Jo Johnson (pictured at Westminster tonight) delivered another devastating blow to Theresa May’s authority as he resigned over Brexit
Johnson’s departure triggered an extraordinary show of unity in his family, which has been engaged in a bitter public fued over Brexit. Within minutes Boris tweeted that despite their differences he had ‘boundless admiration as ever for my brother Jo’. Sister Rachel and father Stanley also voiced support.
In worrying signs for Mrs May, both Brexiteers and Remainers made clear they shared his analysis. Ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis said he was right that the emerging deal is a ‘travesty’ – while condemning his call for a second referendum.
Downing Street tried to shrug off the resignation. ‘The referendum in 2016 was the biggest democratic exercise in this country’s history. We will not under any circumstances have a second referendum,’ a spokesman said. ‘The Prime Minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in Government.’
In a statement on his website, Mr Johnson – who had a big hand in writing the Tories’ 2015 manifesto that pledged to honour the referendum result – said: ‘Although I voted Remain, I have desperately wanted the Government, in which I have been proud to serve, to make a success of Brexit: to reunite our country, our party and, yes, my family too.
Boris’s ‘quieter and cleverer’ younger brother who has caused a storm for May
The younger brother of Boris Johnson has been described as ‘quieter and cleverer’ than his older sibling.
While Boris started his education in England, Jo didn’t start school until after the family had moved to Brussels when their father Stanley landed a job with the European Commission.
Jo therefore first took classes at European School in Uccle in the south of the Belgian capital. Both brothers became fluent in French during their childhood years on the continent.
Both he and Boris later went to Eton College and then Balliol College, Oxford, Boris studying classics, Jo studying modern history.
Jo, like Boris, was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club, a drinking society known for its wanton acts of drunken vandalism, and numbering Oxford’s wealthiest undergraduates among its members.
Jo did his postgraduate studies in Europe and has degrees from two further European universities.
Boris went into journalism after graduating, working for the Times and the Daily Telegraph, Jo meanwhile became an investment banker at Deutsche Bank, before also becoming a journalist at the Financial Times, working in Paris and South East Asia before editing the influential finance column, Lex.
Jo married Amelia Gentleman, a reporter for the Left-wing Guardian in 2005.
The brothers both then went into politics, Boris being elected as MP for Henley in 2001.
Nine years later in 2010, Jo stood as the Conservative candidate in Orpington, south-west London and won with a 19,000 vote majority.
‘At times, I believed this was possible. That’s why I voted to start the Article 50 process and for two years have backed the Prime Minister in her efforts to secure the best deal for the country.
‘But it has become increasingly clear to me that the Withdrawal Agreement, which is being finalised in Brussels and Whitehall even as I write, will be a terrible mistake.’
He added: ‘To present the nation with a choice between two deeply unattractive outcomes, vassalage and chaos, is a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.
‘My constituents in Orpington deserve better than this from their Government.’
Mr Johnson, who was demoted from universities minister earlier this year after a botched attempt to install Toby Young on a watchdog, called for a second Brexit referendum.
‘Given that the reality of Brexit has turned out to be so far from what was once promised, the democratic thing to do is to give the public the final say,’ he said.
‘This would not be about re-running the 2016 referendum, but about asking people whether they want to go ahead with Brexit now that we know the deal that is actually available to us, whether we should leave without any deal at all or whether people on balance would rather stick with the deal we already have inside the European Union.’
Boris Johnson, said that although their views were starkly different, they had come to the same conclusion about the package on offer.
‘We may not have agreed about Brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible UK position,’ he wrote.
‘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,’
Mr Johnson’s sister, television personality Rachel Johnson, tweeted: ‘Am hugely proud of my honourable and principled brother Jo who has put the interests of the country ahead of his political career.’
Mr Davis, who quit over the Chequers deal in July, said he was ‘sorry to see’ Mr Johnson go.
‘He’s right that the Government’s current proposals are ‘a travesty of Brexit’ and represent a huge democratic deficit – out of Europe but run by Europe.
‘However, a 2nd referendum is not the way forward and is not supported by the public.’
Backbench Brexiteers Andrea Jenkyns said: ‘I am sure there will be further resignations if Number 10 continue with their plan for a watered down Brexit in which we are a rule-taker …
‘I don’t support his views regarding a second referendum. But his resignation highlights that the current deal is not supported by Brexiteers or Remainers.’
Best for Britain chief Eloise Todd urged other ministers to follow suit.
‘This is an incredibly brave move from Jo Johnson at a time when the public desperately needs more MPs to act in the national interest,’ she said.
‘We’ve been hurtling towards a blindfolded Brexit for too long, so it’s about time that politicians hand back control to the people of this country by giving them the final say on Brexit – with the option to stay and lead in Europe.’
Brexit has proved a painful dividing in the Johnson family.
While Boris ended up spearheading the Leave campaign, both Jo and Rachel were trenchant Remainers.
Their father Stanley also fought for a Remain victory – but has since suggested he has changed his mind.
Mr Johnson senior said last month that EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the union address, hailing the prospect of Brussels having its own army, had convinced the bloc was headed ‘in a direction we don’t really want to go’.
Jo and his sister Rachel were remainers while older brother Boris campaigned for Brexit
Theresa May has held talks with Emmanuel Macron over lunch in the French town of Albert today before attending Armistice commemorations
Boris Johnson, said that although their views were starkly different, they had come to the same conclusion about the package on offer
The 18 ministers who have resigned from May’s government
Lord Bridges – Brexit differences
Lord Price – pursue other interests
Baroness Anelay – health issues
Michael Fallon – conduct claims
Priti Patel – secret Israel meetings
Damian Green – conduct claims
John Hayes – to speak out on issues backbencher
Justine Greening – refused to be moved in reshuffle
Amber Rudd – Misled MPs during Windrush row
Philip Lee – Brexit
Greg Hands – To oppose Heathrow expansion
David Davis – Brexit
Steve Baker – Brexit
Boris Johnson – Brexit
Guto Bebb – Brexit
Andrew Griffiths – conduct issue
Tracey Crouch – Gambling machine crackdown delay
Jo Johnson – Brexit