Foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has quit claiming that the UK was headed for “the status of colony” if soft Brexit plans by Theresa May were adopted. The leading Brexiter claimed he attempted to support the line agreed at Chequers, but could not support the plan agreed.
Johnson was the third minister to resign within 24 hours after the Chequers deal. His resignation, however, was announced by Downing Street prior to the completion of his resignation letter. “The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat,” Johnson wrote in his letter. Followed by, “Since I cannot in all conscience champion these proposals, I have sadly concluded that I must go”. He released his own resignation letter later, before Downing Street could reply. It was release at the same time as the prime minister’s response. In his letter, he wrote about his belief in that May’s new plan amounted to “a semi-Brexit” with larger parts of the economy “locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over it”. He compared publishing May’s plan to “polishing a turd”.
May pitched the negotiation to the European Union; it would see that the UK agree to adopt “common rule book” on standards for things such as food and goods, in return for achieving greater divergence on services and other things involving digital regulation. This is the proposal that caused Brexiters to be worrisome since its leaked release a week ago.
Pressure has been on the foreign secretary since the resignation of David Davis, who was Brexit’s secretary. After that, Steve Baker left his position as Number 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU.
Johnson’s departure will heighten crisis around May, increasing the chance that she may face a vote of no confidence. A senior Brexiter even suggested that more resignations may follow if May chooses to stick to her plan, “They’ll keep going, one by one, until she either junks Chequers or goes”.
May appeared before the House of Commons just minutes post the publicized resignation of Johnson. She acknowledged his resignation, along with Davis’s at the beginning of her statement. She did not elaborate on the situation involving the turmoil of her government. All she said was, “robust views had been exchanged around the cabinet table, as they have been around the breakfast table”. It is obviously now expected that other cabinet members go along with the statement since a soft Brexit policy has been agreed upon.
Davis had since expressed regret involving Johnson’s decision to resign. He himself had resigned because he could not agree with the Brexit negotiating position, however he felt that Johnson did not need to do so as well. Johnson and others are concerned about the risk of Britain being able to strike trade deals with non-EU countries, and that it will be greatly limited under May’s Chequers approach.