Most senior Brexit official quits United Kingdom government

Minnie Murray
July 9, 2018

Brexit Secretary David Davis and two junior ministers dramatically quit the Government in a huge blow to Prime Minister Theresa May's authority.

Minister in the Brexit department Steve Baker has also resigned.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "If the proposals are as they now appear, I will vote against them and others may well do the same".

Brexit Secretary David Davis has resigned from the United Kingdom government in protest at Theresa May's plans for future ties with the EU.

There was no immediate comment from either Baker or Davis.

David Davis has resigned as Brexit Secretary.

The late-night resignation was praised by Brexit campaigners in May's Conservative Party, who felt her plan to press for the closest possible trading ties with the European Union had betrayed their desire for a clean break with the bloc. The resignations further complicate that process, and put a question mark over whether she can get the backing of parliament for her Brexit plans and whether there may be a leadership contest.

The pound fluctuated on the news of Davis's departure.

I call on the Prime Minister to see sense and bring forward a plan that heeds the mounting evidence against a hard Brexit from opposition parties, the business community and the devolved administrations.

Brexit supporters argue that the move to follow the EU's rule book on trade will hamper the UK's ability to strike trade deals around the world, and will keep the country subservient to Brussels.

In her reply to Davis, May insisted her plan would deliver on the referendum result and the party program from last year's general election.

"I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the European Union", she said. A divorce agreement is due to be wrapped up in just 15 weeks, but there are still major obstacles to overcome. Those talks have all but stalled over difficulties in finding a solution to issues such as the future of the Irish border after Brexit and how goods will flow across it.

Mr Davis had been on the brink of resigning a few times in recent weeks, but soldiered on because he did not want to risk bringing the Prime Minister down. Johnson's allies said on Saturday he decided not to quit as he wanted to remain in government to fight for the kind of Brexit he campaigned for.

Mrs May will have a key meeting with members of her Tory party to discuss her plan in Parliament on Monday. Some lawmakers have already expressed their misgivings. Although UK politics is volatile, the pro-Brexit camp in Parliament would likely struggle to get the numbers together to win if May made a decision to stay and fight.

What appears to have kickstarted the resignations, however, is May's reintroduction of "collective responsibility", a British convention which means ministers are formally banned from disagreeing with government policy, including the Brexit plan.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Press Association: "I can't support the offer which emerged at Chequers - I think it's a breach of the red lines, in fact the offer is so poor that I couldn't support it even if the European Union were paying us for it". "One of the things about politics is that you mustn't, you shouldn't, make the ideal the enemy of the good". One of the things about this compromise is that it unites the cabinet.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has also suggested other Tory Eurosceptic MPs will follow suit.

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