The Prime Minister’s chances of getting her Brexit deal through Parliament have suffered another blow, as one of her own whips resigns his post to vote against it.
Gareth Johnson, the Brexit-supporting Member of Parliament for Dartford, has abandoned the May administration on the eve of the so-called “meaningful vote” on whether or not to accept the terms the EU has offered the Prime Minister, having struggled to “reconcile my duties as a Whip to assist the Government to implement the European Withdrawal Agreement, with my own personal objections to the agreement.”
The Tory MP is evidently unimpressed by the “clarifications” on the “backstop” arrangement included in the deal, which would see Great Britain locked into an ad hoc customs union for goods with the European Union, controlled by the bloc, and the British province of Northern Ireland essentially annexed to the EU Customs Union proper.
“The ‘back stop’, contained in the agreement, gives our country no clear, unilateral path out of the European Union and ensures we will be fettered in our ability to negotiate trade deals with other nations in the future,” he writes.
Back up to 112
Gareth Johnson resigns as a whip to vote against the deal
— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) January 14, 2019
Indeed, the Prime Minister’s “deal” with the European Union does not actually establish a new relationship with the bloc, but merely rubber stamps the multi-billion “divorce bill” she has agreed to pay it and signs her country up to a years-long “transition” period in which it will effectively remain an EU member — but without any representation or voting rights in EU institutions.
The backstop comes into force if no “future partnership” is agreed during the transition, with Britain unable to terminate the backstop relationship without the EU’s consent.
“Along with nearly two-thirds of my constituents and a majority of the country, I supported ‘leave’ in the referendum as I wanted the UK to take back the sovereignty we had lost during our membership of the European Union,” Johnson recalled.
“Unfortunately, this agreement prevents us from taking back control and instead could leave us perpetually constrained by the European Union… We need to rediscover our confidence and belief in our country’s ability to stand tall in the world without the European Union overseeing and managing our future,” he concluded.