Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke announced Sunday they will resign if Boris Johnson wins the Tory party leadership contest and becomes prime minister, with Gauke warning that a no-deal Brexit would lead to national “humiliation.”
Johnson, who is largely expected to come first in the leadership contest that ends Tuesday, has said he is willing to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement if the bloc is not willing to renegotiate that deal, particularly concerning the Irish backstop provision that is detested by many Brexiteers.
“I understand that his conditions for serving in his government would include accepting a no-deal exit on the 31st of October,” Hammond said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “That is not something I could ever sign up to.”
“I’m going to resign”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 21, 2019
“It’s very important that a prime minister is able to have a chancellor who is closely aligned with him in terms of policy,” he added. “And I therefore intent to resign.”
Gauke, who has served in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet since she took office in June 2016, told the Sunday Times that “the appropriate thing” for him was to resign if Johnson took over.
“If the test of loyalty to stay in the cabinet is a commitment to support no-deal on October 31 — which, to be fair to him, Boris has consistently said — then that’s not something I’m prepared to sign up to,” he said.
The paper also reported that up to six Tory MPs are considering defecting to the Liberal Democrats if Johnson becomes prime minister, depriving him of a parliamentary majority.
Gauke said that even if Britain left without a deal, it would still have to negotiate some other agreement with the EU, which is its biggest trading partner. Such a negotiation would then have to be pursued from a position of greater weakness.
“In a period of time where there is no parliamentary majority, there’s political uncertainty and a lack of stability, I worry that the U.K. then will essentially be supplicants,” he said.
“We’ll go through the pain of no-deal, and then we will have no choice but to go back to the EU but in a weaker negotiating position. I fear that, frankly, there is a humiliation for us there if we go down that route,” he added.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned in the Sunday Times that a no-deal Brexit “would cause huge damage to us all.”
While stressing that the Brexit withdrawal agreement was not up for renegotiation, he stressed that the EU was willing to seek a “future relationship” agreement that makes the backstop “unnecessary.”