Boris Johnson’s brother Jo quits Government in fresh blow to the PM

Boris Johnson's brother has quit the Government, saying he had been "torn between family loyalty and the national interest".

Jo Johnson, who had been a senior minister attending meetings of his brother's Cabinet, said it was an "unresolvable tension".

Downing Street said the Prime Minister "as both a politician and brother, understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo".

Jo Johnson announced on Twitter he was quitting his role as Universities Minister and would stand down as MP for Orpington.

He said: "In recent weeks I've been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it's an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister. #overandout"

Jo Johnson is pro-European and has previously called for a second referendum, a position that puts him at odds with the Prime Minister, who has vowed to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a Brexit deal.

Tensions over Europe within the family are well known, with sister Rachel Johnson joking "the family avoids the topic of Brexit especially at meals as we don't want to gang up on the PM".

It is understood Jo Johnson will stand down as an MP at the next election.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "Boris Johnson poses such a threat that even his own brother doesn't trust him."

Shadow policing minister Lou Haigh added: "If your own brother doesn't believe you're acting in the national interest, why should the country?"

Former justice secretary David Gauke, one of those who lost the whip for rebelling against the Government this week, said: "Lots of MPs have had to wrestle with conflicting loyalties in recent weeks.

"None more so than Jo. This is a big loss to Parliament, the Government and the Conservative Party."

The shock resignation came as his brother geared up for an election campaign which will focus on his uncompromising approach to Brexit.

The Government will mount a fresh attempt to call an early election on Monday after failing in a bid last night to go to the country on October 15.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would set out his case directly to the public in a speech on Thursday, claiming Jeremy Corbyn wants to "surrender" to Brussels by "begging" for a delay beyond the October 31 Brexit deadline.

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Boris Johnson becomes PM
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds waits for him to make a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Protesters outside 10 Downing Street, London, awaiting the arrival of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Newly Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Buckingham Palace in London, following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Buckingham Palace in London, following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson, center, arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be formally invited to become Prime Minister, Wednesday July 24, 2019. Boris Johnson will replace May as Prime Minister later Wednesday, following her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the Brexit withdrawal agreement she struck with the European Union. (Yui Mok/pool via AP)
LONDON — Boris Johnson was due to enter 10 Downing St. as Britain's new prime minister on Wednesday, vowing to lead the U.K. out of the European Union and unite a country deeply divided over Brexit.It's a tall order. Johnson has just 99 days to make good on his promise to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31, "come what may."The former mayor of London and foreign secretary is getting Britain's top job in politics after winning a contest to lead the governing Conservative Party.Famed for his bravado, quips in Latin and blond mop of hair, Johnson easily defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt, winning two-thirds of the votes of about 160,000 party members across the U.K.He replaces Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc, leaving Britain stranded in Brexit limbo as the U.K.'s departure from the EU was delayed past its long-scheduled March exit date.Johnson was taking office in a day of carefully choreographed political drama that began with May attending the weekly Prime Minister's Questions period in the House of Commons for the last time.The usually boisterous session was subdued, with Conservative colleagues praising May's sense of duty and opposition leaders offering best wishes, while aiming their fire at her replacement. May just shook her head when Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn asked if she would help him stop "the reckless plans of her successor," who has vowed to leave the EU if necessary without a Brexit divorce deal.May offered Johnson slightly muted praise, saying she was pleased to hand over to a Conservative committed to "delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016 and to delivering a bright future for this country."And she fired back at Corbyn: "As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same?"As she left the Commons chamber, May was given a standing ovation by Conservative lawmakers, many of whom helped bring her down by rejecting her Brexit deal.After saying goodbye to Downing Street staff, May stood outside the prime minister's residence and spoke publicly for the last time as Britain's leader.With husband, Philip, by her side, May said it had been "the greatest honour" to serve as prime minister.Reminding her successor of the risks posed by a disruptive Brexit, May said the new government's priority must be "to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom."May and her husband then travelled by ministerial Jaguar the mile (1.6 kilometres) to Buckingham Palace to advise Queen Elizabeth II to ask Johnson to form a new government. The palace confirmed in a statement that the 93-year-old monarch had accepted May's resignation.May left the palace after a half-hour. Moments later, Johnson's car swept through the gates of the royal residence. He will be the 14th prime minister of the queen's 67-year reign.There was a brief hiccup in the smooth handover when environmental protesters blocked Johnson's car by forming a human chain across the road outside the palace. They were quickly bundled aside by his police escort.Greenpeace said its activists had tried to hand Johnson a letter calling for strong action against climate change.Later, Johnson is to give a speech outside 10 Downing St., giving Britons a glimpse at his priorities and policy plans.Then the real battle starts.Johnson has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on the currently scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a deal on departure terms. Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession, and the EU is adamant that the deal it made with May will not be renegotiated.Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said "we are ready to listen and to work with" Johnson, but did not budge on the bloc's refusal to alter the deal."A no-deal Brexit will never be, never, the choice of the EU. But we are prepared," he said in Brussels.Johnson, whose personal brand is built on optimism — and, critics say, an ambiguous relationship with facts — promised Tuesday to deliver Brexit "in a new spirit of can do.""I say to all the doubters: 'Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done,'" he said.To succeed, Johnson must win over the many Britons opposed to Brexit and resistant to his blustering charms.In a sign he hopes to move beyond the largely white, male and affluent Conservative members who chose him as their leader, Johnson's office said his government would be a "Cabinet for modern Britain" with more women and a record number of ministers from ethnic minorities.His administration is also set to include some pro-EU politicians, but many members will be strong Brexit supporters like Johnson. One of his senior advisers is set to be Dominic Cummings, lead strategist for the "Vote Leave" campaign in the 2016 EU membership referendum.A contentious figure, Cummings was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier this year for refusing to give evidence to a committee of lawmakers investigating "fake news."Several senior members of May's government who oppose a no-deal Brexit resigned Wednesday before they could be fired by Johnson. Treasury chief Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Justice Secretary David Gauke all quit, along with David Lidington, who was May's deputy prime minister."Given Boris's stated policy of leaving the EU by October 31 at all costs, I am not willing to serve in his government," Gauke said in his resignation letter.___Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/BrexitJill Lawless And Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson, center, arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be formally invited to become Prime Minister, Wednesday July 24, 2019. Boris Johnson will replace May as Prime Minister later Wednesday, following her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the Brexit withdrawal agreement she struck with the European Union. (Yui Mok/pool via AP)
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Boris Johnson leaves Whitehall before a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II where he will accept her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Boris Johnson leaves Whitehall before a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II where he will accept her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, on the day it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves his office in Westminster, London, after it was announced he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson (left) with Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis as he arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson speaks at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London after being announced as the new Conservative party leader and next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves his office in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced Mr Johnson is the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
Jeremy Hunt (left) and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where Mr Johson was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Lucia Hunt, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced Mr Johnson is the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
Jeremy Hunt (left) congratulates Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where he was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Lucia Hunt, Jeremy Hunt, congratulating Boris Johnson and Sir Edward Lister, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where Mr Johnson was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
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Opposition parties are in talks about how to respond to Mr Johnson's call for a snap election, with concern about whether the poll should be delayed until after an extension has been secured to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

A cross-party bid to require a Brexit extension cleared the Commons on Wednesday and is due to complete its progress through the Lords on Friday.

The Prime Minister will claim the legislation is a "surrender Bill" and stress he will not seek a delay to Brexit in his speech later.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "It is clear the only action is to go back to the people and give them the opportunity to decide what they want: Boris to go to Brussels and get a deal or leave without one on October 31, or Jeremy Corbyn arriving in Brussels with his surrender Bill begging for more delay, more dither and accepting whatever terms Brussels imposes over our nation."

Setting the scene for a "people versus Parliament" election strategy, the spokesman said: "Boris will argue that it is now time for the people to decide after Parliament has failed them so we can resolve this once and for all.

"For Jeremy Corbyn to continue to avoid an election would be a cowardly insult to democracy."

Meanwhile, the fallout continued from Mr Johnson's decision to remove the Tory whip from 21 MPs, including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Kenneth Clarke, after they rebelled over the plan to block a no-deal Brexit.

Cabinet ministers reportedly raised concerns with Mr Johnson, and the One Nation group of Conservatives called for the 21 to be reinstated.

One Nation group leader and former Cabinet minister Damian Green told the BBC: "I'm afraid it does look as though somebody has decided that the moderate, progressive wing of the Conservative Party is not wanted on voyage."

Chancellor Sajid Javid told LBC Radio he was "saddened" by the decision, adding: "I would like to see those colleagues come back at some point but right now the Prime Minister had no choice."

In Brussels, frustration about the Prime Minister's approach to seeking a Brexit deal was illustrated by a Financial Times report that chief negotiator Michel Barnier claimed there is "a state of paralysis" in talks with the UK.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly claimed progress is being made and told MPs on Tuesday that "in the last few weeks, I believe the chances of a deal have risen".

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