BORIS Johnson last night called on the Cabinet to stage a mutiny as he warned that Theresa May’s Brexit plans will force Britain to “remain in captivity”.
The former Foreign Secretary branded the Prime Minister’s proposed deal – which will keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels if no solution to the Irish border issue can be found – “a recipe for continued strife” and claimed she is “on the verge of surrender”. Writing in his weekly newspaper column, he said: “Under Article 50, the UK is at least able in theory to leave the EU. We do not have to consult any other authority.
“But under these proposals we are agreeing the EU would have a say on whether this country is capable of making that final exit from the EU’s essential institution, the customs union. We are on the verge of signing up for something even worse than the current constitutional position. “These are terms that might be enforced on a colony.” In the wake of his brother Jo’s resignation as Transport Minister last week, Boris Johnson said “no member of the Government” should be able to support the backstop. He added: “The awful truth is that even if the Cabinet mutinies – as they ought – it will make little difference. “Even if we agree with the EU that the UK must have a unilateral break clause, so that we can go our own sweet way at a time of our own choosing, it is irrelevant: Because the programme and ambition of the Government is to remain in captivity, to stay in our cell, even if we are given the theoretical key to escape.” He also accused Mrs May of using a “scare tactic” approach by attempting to “bludgeon MPs into voting for surrender” by warning of the chaos of a “no deal” scenario. Yesterday it was claimed at least four more Remainer ministers were on the brink of quitting after Johnson resigned. Tory Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party also warned they were prepared to torpedo Mrs May’s proposed deal.
Brexiteer Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers, and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson said they would oppose any agreement which threatened the union and could put a trade border down the Irish Sea. And any hope Mrs May had of getting the Cabinet to sign off her Brexit deal proposals this week appeared to have vanished after it was reported Brussels had rejected her plans for a clause that could allow the UK to quit a backstop deal for the Irish border in a bid to convince Brexiteers the UK will not be trapped indefinitely.
A source said Mrs May’s plan is the Government’s “life-support”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has turned off the oxygen.” Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, who is among Eurosceptic ministers put on “resignation watch” by Mrs May’s allies, warned the UK “cannot be held against its will in a customs arrangement”.