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Pressure mounts on May as Boris Johnson quits after Davis

By Sheetal Sukhija, Britain News
10 Jul 2018, 01:34 GMT+10

LONDON, U.K. - Dealing with an increasingly volatile political crisis, the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government faced a major setback on Monday after two of her most senior cabinet ministers resigned over her Brexit plan. 

On Sunday night, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned from his position, claiming that he wasn’t the best person to deliver May’s Brexit plan anymore, since he did not “believe” in it. 

Davis declared that he could not support May's Brexit plan as it involved too close a relationship with the EU and gave only an illusion of control being returned to the U.K. after it left the EU.

Hours later, the country’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson resigned too, plunging May’s government into further turmoil, and leaving her plan for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union in tatters. 

The two senior Cabinet members have decided to quit merely three days after May managed to hammer out a compromise with her deeply divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers on Friday.

In a brief statement, No 10 confirmed Johnson’s resignation and thanked him for his work.

It added that a replacement would be announced shortly.

Further, a Downing Street spokesman said a short while later, “This afternoon, the prime minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The prime minister thanks Boris for his work.”

Announcing his resignation, Davis, who has been leading U.K. negotiations to leave the EU since 2016, when he was appointed Brexit Secretary said on Monday that his "career-ending" decision was a personal one.

He said, “It seems to me we're giving too much away, too easily, and that's a dangerous strategy at this time.”

Davis told May in his resignation letter that "the current trend of policy and tactics" was making it "look less and less likely" that the U.K. would leave the customs union and single market.

He also added that he was "unpersuaded" that the government's negotiating approach "will not just lead to further demands for concessions" from Brussels.

He added, "The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one."

However, May responded, "I do not agree with your characterization of the policy we agreed at cabinet on Friday."

She said she was "sorry" he was leaving but would "like to thank you warmly for everything you have done... to shape our departure from the EU.”

In an interview with BBC later, Davis said that he had objected to May's plan at the Chequers meeting, telling cabinet colleagues at the outset that he was "the odd man out.”

He even pointed out that it was "not tenable" for him to stay in post and try to persuade Tory MPs to back the policy when he did not think it was "workable.”

Davis added, "The best person to do this is someone who really believes in it, not me."

Davis’ resignation came immediately after Junior Brexit minister Steve Baker resigned the same night.

Baker launched an attack on government policy and said that he had been "blindsided" by the Brexit proposal agreed at Chequers.

He further said that he and his team had been preparing a white paper "which did not accord with what has been put to the cabinet at Chequers.”

Subsequently, a prominent Leave campaigner during the 2016 referendum, Dominic Raab was appointed Brexit secretary by May.

The 44-year old staunch Brexiteer Raab, who is currently housing minister, will take over day-to-day negotiations with the EU's Michel Barnier.

Then, on Monday morning, in another blow to May, the Foreign Secretary, who had referred to attempts to sell May’s Brexit plan at the Chequers summit as “polishing a turd,” resigned.

While Johnson’s resignation threatens U.K.’s Brexit strategy, it also puts May’s own political future under threat.

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