Brexit Secretary David Davis has resigned from the UK government. His departure comes days after Theresa May secured the cabinet’s backing for her Brexit plan despite claims from critics that it was “soft”.
Mr Davis was appointed to the post in 2016 and was responsible for negotiating the UK’s EU withdrawal.
In his resignation letter, Mr Davis told Mrs May “the current trend of policy and tactics” was making it “look less and less likely” that the UK would leave the customs union and single market.
He said he was “unpersuaded” that the government’s negotiating approach “will not just lead to further demands for concessions” from Brussels.
Mr Davis said: “The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.”
In her reply, Mrs May said: “I do not agree with your characterisation 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”.
Conservative MP Peter Bone hailed the resignation as a “principled and brave decision”, adding: “The PM’s proposals for a Brexit in name only are not acceptable.”
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “This is absolute chaos and Theresa May has no authority left.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May was “incapable of delivering Brexit”.
After many months of rumours that he would pull the plug, David Davis has actually quit as Brexit Secretary.
His unhappiness in government has been no secret for some time, but after the prime minister’s Chequers agreement with cabinet ministers to pursue closer ties with the EU than he desired, he found his position untenable.
After a visit to Downing Street on Sunday he concluded that he had no choice but to walk.
The move, while not completely surprising, throws doubt on to how secure the government’s Brexit strategy is.
Read Laura’s full blog here.
In the Commons on Monday Mrs May is expected to tell MPs that the strategy agreed on by the cabinet at Chequers on Friday is the “right Brexit” for Britain.
Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be “very difficult” for Mrs May’s plans to win the backing of MPs without Mr Davis.
Nigel Farage congratulated Mr Davis for quitting and called for Mrs May to be replaced as prime minister, accusing her of being “duplicitous” and claiming her response “shows she is controlled by the civil service”.