Theresa May defends Brexit plan after Cabinet departures

Lester Mason
July 10, 2018

The BBC reported that Johnson said in his resignation letter that May has put off decisions about how Britain will leave the European Union, warning that "we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no United Kingdom control over that system".

Steve Baker, a junior Brexit minister, also resigned. That plan is now in tatters and her political future appears uncertain.

In a statement, Johnson savaged May's strategy, accusing her of allowing an optimistic Brexit vision to become clouded by a failure of ambition.

On Monday, minutes after Johnson quit, May defended her Brexit plan to lawmakers in the House of Commons - with Johnson absent from his usual place on the Conservative front bench.

Davis resigned yesterday, saying May's plan to maintain close trade and regulatory ties with the European Union gave "too much away, too easily". "I'd have to do something I didn't believe in", he told the BBC. Before news of his resignation began to circulate, the government's website had touted his announcement of an aid program as part of Johnson's attendance of the Western Balkans Summit, which the U.K.'s Foreign Office is hosting this week.

Theresa May will fight any attempt to unseat her through a vote of no confidence by Conservative MPs, Downing Street has said. A Downing Street spokesman said, "His replacement will be announced shortly".

Earlier this year, Johnson refused to say he would resign if he was dissatisfied with how May's Cabinet chose to handle key Brexit details.

Johnson, a polarising figure and a former mayor of London, was a leading spokesperson for the campaign calling for Britain's departure from the European Union in advance of a June 2016 referendum.

"None of this changes the basic facts: she's [May] in trouble with Brexiteers because they think her Brexit is too soft, whereas, in reality, it probably still isn't soft enough for the EU-27", Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London told EUobserver.

But in reality, she will be at the mercy of her party. At one point, Corbyn seemed to draw a laugh from May herself when he noted that on Friday she had written to her party's ministers "to declare collective Cabinet responsibility is now fully restored". "I won't be encouraging people to do that, I think it's the wrong thing to do".

In 2016, following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, Johnson was widely considered a front-runner in the race that May eventually won, but he ruled himself out after the defection of a key ally.

She was not left in the clear by her MPs either, with challenges from hardline Brexiteers - with Peter Bone claiming campaigners had been "betrayed".

She added that Britain must be free to protect its leading position in the services sector, including finance, after it leaves the European Union.

Long before the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, the Conservative Party was split on Europe, and May has struggled to unite the warring wings under her leadership.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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