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Amber Rudd says no evidence Johnson's government trying to get deal with EU

Theresa Coffey has replaced Rudd following her resignation last night.

Amber Rudd is the latest in a string of prominent Tory MPs to quit the party.
Amber Rudd is the latest in a string of prominent Tory MPs to quit the party.
Image: Alberto Pezzali

Updated Sep 8th 2019, 2:25 PM

BRITISH MP AND cabinet minister Amber Rudd has resigned from the Conservative party in response to Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit. 

Rudd was appointed as work and pensions secretary by former prime minister Theresa May last year and was reappointed when Johnson took over the premiership in July. 

In a letter to Johnson yesterday, Rudd resigned from her cabinet position as well as her membership of the Conservative party, citing a lack of “reassurances” from the Government, and follows a string of people to leave the party in recent days. 

“This has been a difficult decision. I joined your Cabinet in good faith; accepting that ‘no deal’ had to be on the table because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on 31 October,” she said. 

“However, I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective. 

“The government is expending a lot of energy to prepare for ‘no deal’ but I have not see the same level of intensity go into our talks with the European Union who have asked us to present alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today, Rudd accused Johnson’s government of not doing enough to secure a new deal with the EU. 

I support the Prime Minister in getting a deal and not leaving without a deal. But I have not seen enough work into actually trying to get a deal. When earlier in the week I asked No 10 for a summary of what the planning was actually getting a deal, I was sent a one-page summary. There is not enough work into actually getting a deal, which is not what the prime minister signed up to try to do.

“There is no evidence of the deal. There is no formal negotiation taking place. There are just a lot of conversations,” Rudd said, adding that too much effort is going into no-deal preparations. 

There is this huge machine preparing for no deal. You might expect in the balance between getting a deal and no deal 50/50 in terms of work, but it is not that, it is like 80-90% of government time going into no deal.

Johnson moved quickly to replace Rudd, appointing MP for Suffolk Theresa Coffey as work and pensions secretary.

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Johnson is adamant that he needs the no-deal threat to wrest a better agreement from Brussels at a leadership summit on 17-18 October.

He is instead seeking to hold an early general election on 15 October that could give him a mandate to take Britain out on time and at any cost.

But parliament has mandated Johnson to seek an extension should his approach fail by 19 October.

Lawmakers are also expected on Monday to block his call for a snap vote for a second time. This appears to leave Johnson with few other options but to resign – something two top ministers said on Sunday he would not do.

“The prime minister will not be resigning,” interior minister Sajid Javid told the BBC today.

He will be keeping this government’s promise to leave on the 31st.

 Javid gave few specifics about what Johnson will do should parliament tell him to ask for an extension after turning down his election challenge.

“We have a plan, which is to stick to what we have been doing,” Javid said.

Winning with voters 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that one option would be for the government to challenge parliament’s potential delay request in court.

“It will be challenged in the courts,” Raab told Sky News.

“What we are going to do with that legislation is test very carefully what it does and doesn’t require and that’s not only the lawful thing to do, I think that’s the responsible thing to do,” Raab said.

And Johnson himself said in a letter to two Sunday newspapers that his government would “simply carry on” if his election call is turned down.

“We will surmount all the obstacles in our path,” Johnson said.

Whatever happens we will get ready to come out on 31 October and we will serve this country and its people with the energy and commitment they deserve.

According to three separate polls published today, his message still appears to be resonating with British voters.

They show Johnson’s Conservatives either holding or extending their lead over the main opposition Labour Party to around 10 percentage points.

On Thursday Johnson’s brother Jo Johnson also resigned as a minister and MP over a “conflict of family loyalty and the national interest,” while on Tuesday Philip Lee resigned as member of the Conservative party saying “it was no longer possible to serve my constituents’ and country’s best interests”. 

Johnson also withdrew the whip from 21 Tory rebels who are unable to vote as members of the Conservative party on Tuesday, which Rudd said was an “assault on decency and democracy”. 

Johnson is due in Dublin tomorrow for a meeting with the Taoiseach. 

Additional reporting from Adam Daly and - © AFP 2019

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