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UK Prime Minister’s brother quits government over Brexit

Thursday, 5 September, 2019 - 16:41

Jo Johnson, brother of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and until today, Secretary of State for Universities, has resigned citing “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and national interest.”

“In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it’s an unresolvable tension and time for others to take on my roles as MP & minister,” tweeted Jo Johnson.

Johnson, 47, had resigned in November 2018 from Theresa May’s government in opposition to the withdrawal agreement she had negotiated with the European Union.

He voted to remain in the EU in the referendum in June 2016 and at the time of his first resignation, denounced “the choice left to the British people” between an agreement that would “weaken the economy” and an exit without agreement, which would inflict “untold damage” in the United Kingdom.

This position puts him at odds with the Prime Minister, who has vowed to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a Brexit deal.

Johnson’s resignation comes after the Prime Minister suffered two new defeats in the House of Commons, which gave the green light to a law to prevent the UK leaving without an agreement and rejected, for now, calls for elections to be held on October 15.

He is not the only member of the Johnson family to have differing opinions from those of his brother: their sister Rachel had campaigned in the European elections for the anti-Brexit Change UK party, but failed to win a seat. And their father Stanley, who was Conservative MEP from 1979 to 1984 also voted against Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

A spokesman for Downing Street has stated that the prime minister “wants to thank Jo Johnson for his services.” 

“He has been a brilliant and talented minister and a fantastic deputy,” the Prime Minister’s office said. 



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