Former Foreign Secretary Alan Johnson: ‘If I was still an MP, I would have been voting for Theresa May's deal'

Labour’s Alan Johnson: ‘If I was still an MP, I would have been voting for Theresa May's deal'

Former Foreign Secretary Alan Johnson has said he would have voted for Theresa May's withdrawal deal.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Alan Johnson, a former Labour Foreign Secretary has said that if he was still an MP he would have voted for Theresa May’s deal, and described the Labour MPs who did as “brave”.

The Prime Minister’s deal was defeated by 230 votes on Tuesday night.

He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “If I was still an MP I would have been voting for the deal. There were three brave Labour MPs who voted for the deal but for the rest I understand that there is the party conference policy to go for a change of government, a general election and possibly a Labour government. That is gone now.

“Yes, they keep threatening to bring back motions of no confidence but that is not going to work.

“Now that is gone, I think there are a lot of Labour MPs who would want to look at this more carefully and gone for the deal.”

He added that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn needed to “turn himself into a negotiator” to have a part in the direction of Brexit.

He said: “They have to get a deal. The small minority who think we can crash out without a deal, they are very much a minority.

“If you are looking for the majority opinion in Parliament that is what Theresa May is looking to find, it excludes that but it is very much about staying in the customs union, which was the old common market.

“That is doable and that is where she needs to move but Corbyn needs to be making the argument. He needs to turn himself into a negotiator.”


'No prospect of a deal' 

Anti-Brexit protesters outside of the Houses of Parliament. 

Mr Johnson said it was not possible for Mrs May to “guarantee” not leaving without a deal, when “there is no prospect of a deal”.

“I think the Prime Minister went as far as she could in her statement after losing the vote the other night when she gave two reassurances, one of which was that she would not just let the clock wind down and drift into no deal,” he said.

“I do not know how she can go further than that because the people who have control over leaving without a deal is Parliament because to negate that they have to have a deal and they have just rejected one.

“It is up to the European Union as well about whether we extend Article 50 or whether we change the agreement.

“There are two sides and it takes two to tango. I am not quite sure how anyone can guarantee we won’t drop out without a deal when there is no prospect of a deal.”