Boris Johnson has been dealt another major blow with his brother, MP Jo Johnson, announcing he is quitting politics because he is “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.
Jo Johnson, who had been promoted to the frontbench as business minister when his brother became Prime Minister, said there was an “unresolvable tension” in his role and that he would also be stepping down as MP of his south-east London seat of Orpington.
He had voted Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum while his brother Boris was one of the main faces of the Leave campaign.
“It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs,” the 47-year-old tweeted.
“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.”
Boris Johnson thanked his brother for his service, and just hours after Jo’s resignation, declared he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the European Union for another Brexit delay.
He said his brother was a “fantastic guy” but they had had their “differences”.
“Jo doesn’t agree with me about the European Union,” Mr Johnson said.
Less than an hour after Jo Johnson’s announcement another Conservative MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, declared she would be retiring at the next general election.
Dame Caroline, a former chairwoman of the Conservative Party and environment secretary, cited concerns over a no-deal Brexit and the impact on the car industry in her constituency as her reasons for quitting.
“It has been a privilege to serve the constituency over the last 22 years, but the time has come for a new person to represent the interests of Meriden in a new Parliament which will be dominated by the consequences of Brexit,” she tweeted.