Boris Johnson Cried When His Brother Jo Quit U.K. Parliament Over Brexit Plan, ‘New York Times’ Reports

Peter SummersGetty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who just assumed the role in July, has refused to budge on his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union on October 31, even if no deal can be reached to maintain trade relations between the U.K. and E.U. But Johnson’s inflexibility on his “no deal Brexit” has sparked resignations from his Conservative party, and the expulsion of 21 members of Parliament from the party because they refused to back Johnson on the hard, October 31 Brexit deadline, as The Washington Post reported.

But according to a report by New York Times columnist Jenni Russell published on Saturday, when Johnson’s own brother, Jo Johnson, resigned from the government, the prime minister broke down in tears.

“This was such a blow that sources close to the prime minister tell me that he cried when he heard the news,” Russell wrote in her NYT op-ed. “The speech he gave a couple of hours later, originally planned as the kickoff of an election campaign, was a delayed, confused and extraordinarily rambling mess.”

Jo Johnson served as minister for science and universities in Boris Johnson’s government, but on Thursday he took to his Twitter account to announce his resignation due to what he called “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest.”

Jo Johnson rides in a car.
Former U.K. parliament member Jo Johnson, brother of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.Featured image credit: Peter SummersGetty Images

His tears over his own brother’s resignation followed a contentious week in which Johnson was “humiliated by the scorn heaped on him” when he faced Parliament two days earlier, according to Russell. She said that Johnson “never expected” that he would be forced to kick out members of the Conservative party which he now leads. Johnson believed he could rely simply on his “charm” to sway any opposition to his “no deal Brexit” plan.

Parliament is expected to vote on Monday on legislation that would require Johnson to travel to E.U. headquarters in Brussels to negotiate an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline, unless he can negotiate a deal — an effort which has been ongoing since 2016, but has met with no success — or persuade Parliament to approve a “no deal” exit from the E.U. But Johnson said that he would prefer to be “dead in a ditch” rather than go to Brussels to ask for an extension, The Independent reported.

Among the Conservative party members expelled by Johnson for their opposition to a no-deal Brexit were Nicholas Soames, the grandson of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Soames has served in the U.K. Parliament for 37 years, according to an NPR report. Also expelled was Ken Clarke, the single longest-serving member of Parliament.