POLITICS
19/07/2019 15:26 BST

Margot James' Resignation Letter Attacks 'Reckless' Tory MPs Accepting No-Deal Brexit

Former minister quit government to block Boris Johnson from suspending parliament

Eamonn McCormack/BFC via Getty Images

Tory MP Margot James, who resigned from the government on Thursday, has attacked Boris Johnson “reckless” pledge to accept a no-deal Brexit.

James voted in favour of a change in the law yesterday to prevent the next prime minister from being able to suspend parliament in order to force a no-deal exit.

In her letter of resignation to Theresa May published today, James said it was “quite incredible” that Tory MPs would “go against the views of virtually every business organisation” and condone leaving the EU without an agreement.

“Although the leadership election has yet to conclude, the fact that Boris Johnson has made such uncompromising commitments to a ‘do or die’ Brexit by October 31st with or without a deal is concerning enough,” the former digital minister said.

“But then not to rule out the possibility of proroguing parliament in order to secure that outcome, if he can’t agree a new deal in less than four months, is simply a bridge too far for me.”

James added: “I believe leaving without a deal would be a disaster for this country. To turn our backs on our biggest trading partner would make us dangerously dependent on the US at the very worst possible time.

“Whether we like it or not there are three principle economic powers in the world today; China, the US and the EU. To go from the position of one of the three most powerful countries in the EU to being without even a formal security and trading relationship with the EU, or anybody else, is reckless in the extreme.”

It came as Philip Hammond promised to do “everything in my power” to block a no-deal Brexit.

The chancellor left open the possibility of voting to bring down a Conservative government led by Johnson if the UK was on course to crash out of the European Union without a deal on October 31.

Johnson has again ruled out seeking an extension to the deadline, insisting that the UK would leave the EU on Halloween “come what may”.

But Hammond said it would be impossible to renegotiate a deal with Brussels before that deadline.

MPs voted by a majority of 41 to back a measure aimed at preventing Johnson suspending parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit, with 17 Tories rebelling and dozens more abstaining.

The chancellor, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Business Secretary Greg Clark and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart did not vote, all are expected to be on the backbenches under Johnson and could be a thorn in his side.