Johnson: Tories face defeat like 1997 if they back Brexit plans

PUBLISHED: 08:29 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:40 29 November 2018

File photo dated 12/01/18 of former minister Jo Johnson who will say fellow Tories should vote down Prime Minister Theresa May's

File photo dated 12/01/18 of former minister Jo Johnson who will say fellow Tories should vote down Prime Minister Theresa May's "worst of all worlds" Brexit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 29, 2018. Johnson, whose surprise resignation caught Westminster off guard earlier this month, is using a speech in London on Thursday to try and rally opposition to Mrs Mays EU withdrawal agreement.See PA story POLITICS Brexit Johnson. Photo credit should read: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Former government minister Jo Johnson has urged the Tories to vote down Prime Minister Theresa May’s “worst of all worlds” Brexit.

Johnson, whose surprise resignation caught Westminster off guard, is to use a speech to try and rally opposition to Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agreement.

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The ex-transport minister will say the Conservatives risk an election disaster on the scale of 1997 if they back May’s plans.

Johnson, who backs a new Brexit referendum, will say: “This is the worst of all worlds.

“There is a natural opportunity, now that the deal is agreed, for us to check that the country wants us to proceed on this basis.

“Now is the time to ensure we have public support for this major decision in our nation’s history.”

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The brother of arch-Breexiter Boris Johnson will say: “The Conservative Party’s reputation for economic competence would be undermined by implementing a botched Brexit, especially one that the Government’s own analysis suggests will cause economic harm.

“Brexit is seen as a project driven by the Conservative Party and this half-baked, worst of all worlds Brexit could trigger an electoral defeat on the scale of 1997, or worse, with this ‘Tory Brexit’ label an albatross around our necks for years to come.”

Johnson will also reject a so-called “Norway Forever” option in which the UK emulates the Scandinavian country’s relationship with the EU.

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He will say: “It is hard to see a majority in Parliament for a policy which combines the continuation of free movement of people and no say in EU decision making.

“Norway Forever is tantamount to full EU membership with no voting rights.

“Anyone who objects to the PM’s deal because it leaves us in a subordinate relationship to the EU should dislike Norway Forever even more.

“It is a self-defeating form of Brexit, which no self-respecting Parliament should touch with a barge pole.”

Johnson will be speaking alongside former Conservative ministers Justine Greening and Lord Willetts at the event.

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