The Prime Minister’s cabinet is gathering at 10 Downing Street after an array of resignations over her Brexit strategy has left her government in crisis
Jeremy Hunt, however, who has replaced Johnson as foreign secretary, said he would be “four square” behind her. A tweet of Hunt’s Sunday evening said: “Huge honour to be appointed Foreign Secretary at this critical moment in our country’s history. Time to back our PM to get a great Brexit deal – it’s now or never…”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson and Davis had abandoned a “sinking ship”, shattering the “illusion of unity” initially surrounding the Chequers plan.
Yesterday two vice-chairs of the Conservative Party also resigned in protest of the PM’s new Brexit plan. Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield both quit their party roles out of opposition to the Brexit blueprint agreed at May’s Chequer’s retreat last week.
In his resignation letter, Ben Bradley said: “I admit that I voted to Remain in that ballot. What has swayed me over the last two years to fully back the Brexit vision is the immense opportunities that are available from global trade, and for the ability for Britain to be an outward looking nation in control of our own destiny once again.
“I fear that this agreement at Chequers damages those opportunities; that being tied to EU regulations, and the EU tying our hands when seeking to make new trade agreements, will be the worst of all worlds if we do not deliver Brexit in spirit as well as in name, then we are handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to No10.”
Maria Caulfield has said: “The policy may assuage vested interests, but the voters will find out and their representatives will be found out. This policy will be bad for our country and bad for the party. The direct consequences of that will be Prime Minister Corbyn.”
At the Chequers country retreat last Friday, May brokered a “collective” agreement on proposals for the future relationship between the EU and UK. However, Boris Johnson accused May of pursuing a “semi-Brexit”. Johnson officially departed yesterday, following Brexit Secretary David Davis and several junior figures.
In his resignation letter, Johnson said the Brexit “dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt”.
May later took on backbench critics at a meeting of the 1922 committee, amid rumours they were close to getting the 48 signatures needed to set-off a no-confidence vote that could trigger the possibility of a leadership election.
The UK is still on track to leave the European Union on 29 March next year, but it has yet to be agreed how trade will work between the UK and the EU thereafter, and the delay has been partly blamed on deep disagreements within the Conservative Party over what shape Brexit should take.
In summary, the disagreements are centred around how much the UK should prioritise business interests by compromising on post-referendum promises to end free movement of people, remove the UK from the remit of the European Court of Justice, and also have an independent trade policy which allows the UK to make its own trade rules and determine its own trade deals.
Image source: Sky News.
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