By Jack Montgomery
Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned from Theresa May’s government late on Sunday night, followed swiftly by junior ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman.
The Yorkshire MP, who collaborated with Leave.EU-backed Grassroots Out campaign as well as the establishment Vote Leave outfit during the EU referendum, made frequent threats to resign during his time as leader of the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union, reportedly due to persistent efforts by the Remain-supporting Theresa May and her main adviser, Soviet-sympathising bureaucrat Olly Robbins, to undermine his negotiations with Brussels.
The ultra-soft Brexit plan imposed by the Prime Minsiter at Chequers appears to have been the last straw, with Davis outlining his belief that it “hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.”
UPDATE 1030: Housing Minister Dominic Raab has been made new Brexit Secretary
‘Vote Leave’ Tory MP Dominic Raab has been selected to lead the Brexit department after David Davis’ departure. Anti-Brexit figures like Labour’s Chuka Umunna aren’t happy — but will Raab’s move to Brexit Secretary mean he’ll have to abandon his principles and toe the Theresa line?
Update 0930: David Davis says European Union will wield ‘Sword of Damocles’ over Britain in May’s plan
Speaking in his first interview since resigning the post of Brexit Secretary Sunday night, David Davis told the BBC’s Radio 4 that he had not been able to continue in the role because he did not believe it was “the best strategy, there are other strategies available… I thought there was a risk at least of delivering a poor outcome” and that the May approach to negotiation would leave the European Union with too much power.
Davis explained that the Prime Minister had long ago established herself as the primary negotiator and had decided not to take the Brexit Secretary’s advice, and that he wouldn’t have been able to defend her Brexit decisions to the party, Parliament, and even Brussels as the best possible plan as he didn’t believe in it himself and it would not be “plausible”.
Focussing on May’s proposal that the EU and the UK share a common rulebook dictated by Brussels after Brexit, Davis called it “problematic” and explained: “…in this the European Union writes the rules, but we have to harmonise to them… as it stands now, we are identical or we’re not.”
“Parliament will be under the sword of Damocles… it’s illusory rather than real [power]. It’s painting something as returning sovereignty, returning control to the House of Commons but in practice, it isn’t doing so.”
Mr Davis said, “We’re giving too much away too easily, and that’s a dangerous strategy at this time… I hope we will resist very strongly, any attempts to get further concessions from us.”
A new Brexit secretary, and almost certainly one from the remain-supporting side of the Conservative party, is expected to be nominated Monday morning.
This story is developing. Read the original update below:
There has been substantial disquiet among Brexiteers about the Chequers agreement proposals — shown to Germany’s Angela Merkel before her own Cabinet, according to some reports — which would leave Britain effectively still inside the EU’s Single Market for goods and agricultural products but outside the Single Market for services — such as it is — and subject to a “common rulebook” dictated by the EU court, as well as bound to EU standards on state aid, employment, and other regulations and forced to collect customs duties on the bloc’s behalf, among other onerous obligations.
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Boris Johnson reportedly described the deal as “a big turd” and warned that any minister supporting it would be “polishing a turd” — but it looked as though all had acquiesced to publicly supporting it until Davis bit the bullet around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night.
Tweets from Sarah O’Grady, the wife of David Davis’s chief of staff Stewart Jackson, suggested the veteran parliamentarian made the decision to walk away because he “couldn’t sell out his own country”.
The resignation was swiftly followed by that of Steve Baker and Suella Braverman, who are not members of the Cabinet but were the Brexit Department’s other elected Brexit supporters. Only Remainer Robin Walker and House of Lords representative Martin Callanan are still in post.
The moves come as Brexiteer anger with the Prime Minister on the backbenches appears to have boiled over, with a number of MPs known to have written to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, to request a vote of no confidence in Theresa May’s leadership.
The letters were apparently not orchestrated by Jacob Rees-Mogg or his European Research Group (ERG) faction of Tory backbenchers, which comprises the bulk of the parliamentary party’s Brexiteers, but were a “spontaneous” response to the Prime Minister “traducing those who voted to leave [the] EU”.
“An egg which is very softly boiled isn’t boiled at all; a very soft Brexit means we haven’t left, we’re simply a rule-taker,” Rees-Mogg observed after May’s plans were announced.
“That is not something that this country voted for; it’s not what the Prime Minister promised… I will certainly stick to the Conservatives’ manifesto commitments, and will not vote for something that doesn’t deliver Brexit.”
This story is developing…