Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

David Davis quits as Brexit Secretary in major blow to May

David Davis quits as Brexit Secretary in major blow to May

The move comes on the eve of a major test for the Prime Minister as she faces first the House of Commons and then a potentially stormy meeting of Tory MPs and peers on Monday.

Davis has form on resigning if he disagrees with his party.

Davis and Baker, both longstanding euroskeptics, decided they couldn't support the policy, a person familiar with the matter said.

On Friday, Davis and the rest of May's fractious Cabinet finally agreed on a plan for future trade ties with the EU.

Some Brexit-supporting lawmakers are angry at the proposals, saying they will keep Britain tethered to the bloc and unable to change its rules to strike new trade deals around the world.

"The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one", Davis wrote in his resignation letter to May, which was released by her office. "Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom".

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis.

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Brexiteer Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted the plan was not everything he had hoped for, but he was a "realist" and the Prime Minister's lack of a Commons majority meant the "parliamentary arithmetic" was a factor in deciding what could be adopted.

Davis and fellow Brexit backer Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both agreed to support May's proposal for a softer divorce than she had originally planned, and it seemed she had survived the storm. 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.

But Davis had expressed his unease over a compromise plan right up until the eve of the meeting, writing a letter to May describing her proposal to ease trade and give Britain more freedom to set tariffs as "unworkable".

They accuse May of backtracking on her professed red lines in the negotiations.

Their complaints raise a question mark over whether May can win backing in parliament for her plans if any deal with the European Union is agreed later this year, and some suggest several of them could try to trigger a leadership contest against her.

Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leader of the party's "hard Brexit" faction, compared May's plan to an egg so softly boiled that it "isn't boiled at all".

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".

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