Words: Delmar Terblanche
Subbing: Etienne Fermie
Dave Davis has resigned as Brexit secretary. The move comes as a protest against the government’s vision for the policy, which he said “will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.”
Dacis’ resignation comes just weeks before the deadline for the EU and Theresa May’s government to agree on the terms of Brexit. Last week, the Prime Minister’s cabinet agreed upon a plan which would see the UK closely tied to Brussels – more closely than many hard-line Brexiteers would have liked.
The plan involved agreeing to EU regulations on agriculture and industry, thereby achieving a free trade area with the bloc, as well as striving towards a “combined customs territory”. It was positively received in Brussels, with Michel Barnier tweeting: “Chequers discussion on future to be welcomed. I look forward to White Paper.”
But now the appearance of consensus has been shattered with Davis’ resignation. Writing to the PM he accused her plan of “[handing] control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and… certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.”
Following Mr Davis decision, two more Brexit Ministers, Steve Baker and Suella Braverman, have followed him out the door, citing the same lack of confidence that Brexit really means Brexit anymore.
Theresa May has responded with a three page letter which defends her cabinet’s decision, declaring “I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed with the government on Friday… The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.”
The Prime Minister must now appoint a successor to Mr Davis and defend her government’s strength and stability to parliament this evening. Already, the government has received criticism from hard-line Brexiteer MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, who told BBC Radio 5 Live: “These proposals will have to come to the House of Commons in legislation and the question is ‘will they command support from Conservative MPs?’ And I think without David Davis there… it will be very difficult… and therefore the Prime Minister would be well advised to reconsider them.”
A likely candidate to succeed Mr Davis is Michael Gove, the current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Mr Gove was an ardent campaigner for Leave during the referendum, but has since repositioned himself as “the Brexiteer that remainers can do business with.”
Jeremy Corbyn has tweeted that “David Davis resigning at such a crucial time shows Theresa May has no authority left and is incapable of delivering Brexit,” and has called on her to step down.