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Boris Johnson quote about ‘shafting own brother’ resurfaces after sibling quits government

‘We don’t do things that way, that’s a very left-wing thing,’ then-London mayor said

Jon Sharman
Thursday 05 September 2019 15:32 BST
What happens next with Brexit

An old Boris Johnson soundbite is coming back to haunt the embattled prime minister in the wake of his brother Jo’s resignation.

The elder Johnson was rocked by his sibling’s decision to step down as an MP and higher education minister on Wednesday.

Jo Johnson said he was finding it impossible to reconcile “family loyalty and the national interest”, adding in a tweet: “It’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & minister.”

The prime minister had previously suggestion that “shafting” one’s own family in politics was something only left-wingers did.

In an interview with The Australian in 2013, discussing Ed Miliband‘s Labour leadership victory over brother David, Mr Johnson said: “We don’t do things that way, that’s a very left-wing thing.”

He added: “Only a socialist could do that to his brother, only a socialist could regard familial ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother.

“They see people as discrete agents devoid of ties to society or to each other, and that’s how Stalin could murder 20 million people.”

His brother’s stinging resignation came as the PM appeared stuck in a Brexit quagmire, having suffered a string of defeats in the Commons and the defection of some of the Tories’ most senior MPs.

After MPs passed a bill designed to block a no-deal Brexit, the government announced it would make a second attempt to launch a general election before withdrawal takes place.

Mr Johnson will seek to hold the poll before the EU summit on 17 October in a bid to gain a strong mandate to negotiate Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Commons.

The motion will be put on Monday.

A No 10 spokesman said Jo Johnson had been “a brilliant, talented minister and a fantastic MP’’, and that the prime minister “as both a politician and brother understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo’’.

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