Britain's Brexit secretary suddenly resigns

Frederick Owens
July 9, 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Boris Johnson reportedly described the deal as "a big turd" and warned that any minister supporting it would be "polishing a turd" - but it looked as though all had acquiesced to publicly supporting it until Davis bit the bullet around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night.

"Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom".

In an ominous warning to the Prime Minister, about 60 per cent of those surveyed by the ConservativeHome website said the deal as outlined so far would be bad for Britain if implemented, and the same proportion said they would not support it.

After an hours-long meeting at Chequers, May seemed to have persuaded the most vocal Brexit campaigners in the cabinet, including Davis, to back her plan to press for "a free trade area for goods" with the European Union and maintain close trade ties.

Davis' resignation was also accompanied by the resignation of his deputy, Brexit minister Steve Baker, according to the Telegraph.

In that meeting, May had appeared to win over her fractious cabinet and secure approval for her plan, which was to be published as soon as this week in a lengthy white paper that would stake out Britain's vision for future relations with Europe.

Yet after reflecting on the situation, Mr Davis and Mr Baker apparently decided they could not live with such a soft Brexit after all.

Johnson's allies said on Saturday that he decided not to quit because he wanted to remain in the government to fight for the kind of Brexit for which he had campaigned.

On Monday, May is due to brief MPs on the plan hammered out during a 12-hour meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country retreat. Some lawmakers have already expressed their misgivings.

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The letters were apparently not orchestrated by Jacob Rees-Mogg or his European Research Group (ERG) faction of Tory backbenchers, which comprises the bulk of the parliamentary party's Brexiteers, but were a "spontaneous" response to the Prime Minister "traducing those who voted to leave [the] EU".

His fundamental concern is the sidelining of him and his department by the creation of the Europe unit in the Cabinet Office, headed up by his former permanent secretary Olly Robbins as the PM's personal adviser on Europe.

"[Under the agreement set out] we will be a rule-taker, we will not be able to make the trade deals we hoped for".

Theresa May has ten days to convince the European Union that her Brexit plan will not destroy its single market or open a floodgate to cheap imports or counterfeit goods.

"Fantastic news", tweeted Andrea Jenkyns, a Conservative lawmaker.

Davis was the front-runner in the 2005 Conservative Party leadership contest, but lost out to David Cameron, shedding momentum after a party conference speech fell flat. I take my hat off to you. "We need to make sure this is now a game changer for #Brexit".

Mr Davis's resignation will anger cabinet colleagues from both wings of the party.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she understands Mr Davis was "furious" after a meeting at Number 10 earlier on Sunday and "concluded he could not stay in post".

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