One day after his brother suffered a string of humiliating parliamentary defeats at the hands of a ‘rebel alliance’ of (now-former) Tory MPs and the Labour-led opposition, Jo Johnson said he’s quitting politics, signing off with what the Financial Times described as a “thinly veiled” attack on his brother’s leadership.
Johnson, who served as minister for universities in his brother’s cabinet and the MP for Orpington in Kent since 2010 said on Thursday that he wouldn’t run again during the next election.
But in the tweet announcing his plans, Johnson said that in recent weeks he’d been “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”, implying that he feels a ‘no-deal’ Brexit…isn’t in the national interest.
“It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs.”
It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs. 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 (@JoJohnsonUK) September 5, 2019
Of course, that Johnson opposed his brother’s hard-line strategy for the Brexit negotiations is hardly news. Jo Johnson previously resigned his post as the minister of state for transport back in November, citing his opposition to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. When May was PM, Johnson spoke openly about favoring a second Brexit referendum.
Now, the pro-remain Tory is giving his brother the same treatment.
During an interview from 2013, Boris Johnson was asked if he and Jo were “like” the Milibands, whose infamous rift captivated the British political establishment when – in the aftermath of his brother’s humiliating defeat at the hands of David Cameron – David Miliband did a round of interviews criticizing his little brother. Johnson said only “socialists” could “shaft” a family member like that.
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) September 5, 2019
We imagine the world will be keen to hear Johnson’s thoughts on his brother’s decision.