Airbus boss Enders backs UK PM May's latest Brexit position

Muriel Colon
July 11, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May held what she said was a "productive" meeting of her new cabinet on Tuesday, before being hit by new resignations within her ruling Conservative party over her strategy for leaving the European Union.

The resignation of David Davis and Steve Baker on Sunday, then Boris Johnson on Monday suggests if not the end then the beginning of the end.

Mr Johnson resigned on Monday as the fallout from May's Brexit plans continued.

During that campaign he travelled around the country in a Vote Leave bus controversially emblazoned with the claim that exiting the European Union would bring £350 million a week back to Britain to spend on the NHS. Culture secretary Matt Hancock has replaces Hunt as health secretary.

Two vice chairs of the Conservative Party, Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley, are quitting their posts in protest at Theresa May's Chequers Brexit compromise plan.

In a scathing resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said that, under her leadership, the United Kingdom was "heading for a semi-Brexit", with the dream of an outward-looking global Britain "dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt". "I hope you have a lovely day".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker promised that the EU would "continue to negotiate in good faith", while his chief spokesman said Mr Davis' departure would not affect the approach of Brussels, saying: "We are here to work".

"We must have collective responsibility".

Asked whether May was in trouble following the rash of departures from her Government on Monday, the Environment Secretary replied: "No".

"If the required 48 members sign what they hope will be her death warrant, they could find that no one is courageous or competent enough to execute it", commentator Charles Moore wrote in the Brexit-backing Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.

"I wish them both well as they return to the backbenches to serve their constituents".

The timing could not be worse, as Britain faces a fresh diplomatic row with Russian Federation over a nerve agent attack, and ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit this week.

Downing Street made clear the PM would fight any attempt to oust her by rebel MPs.

May´s Conservative opponents could trigger a confidence vote against her if at least 48 MPs support it, but to actually force her from office 159 MPs would have to vote against her - a figure hardliners may not be able to reach.

Sir Graham has consistently refused to say whether he had received any such letters.

If Mrs May chose to fight, she would need the support of more than 50% of Conservative MPs - now 159 - in the confidence vote to stay in office.

And senior backbencher Bernard Jenkin said there had been a "massive haemorrhage of trust" in Mrs May.

The Brexiteer asked when the "drop-dead moment" to walk away would come.

The UK, Trump said, was in "a situation that's been going on for a long time".

May's proposals for a future European Union relationship after Britain departs from the bloc next March had taken two years of internal government wrangling to agree, but within 48 hours Johnson and Davis had resigned saying they could not back the plans. Trump isn't expected to directly address Brexit, nor were he and Johnson scheduled to meet.

"When he says the Brexit dream is dying, he's really talking about the perspective he had on Brexit, but in my view that was never a live possibility in any instance".

With Jeremy Corbyn's Labour waiting to seize on any parliamentary mis-steps and split in the ranks, the Tories may soon realise that only a populist candidate such as Boris has any chance of delivering victory for them at the next election.

The Chequers agreement "stands as a shattered truce, a sticking plaster over the Cabinet's cracks in this Government", Mr Corbyn told the Commons.

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