In a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to extract the U.K. from the European Union (EU), Boris Johnson has resigned his foreign secretary post rather than support May’s strategy for a soft Brexit.
A signal of cabinet turmoil, Johnson’s Monday resignation marks the eighth cabinet member to resign or stand down from election since May survived otherwise disastrous snap elections in 2017.
In a statement released from 10 Downing Street, a May spokesman announced Johnson’s departure from the cabinet. Health department head Jeremy Hunt was later announced as the new foreign secretary.
The culmination of vexation with the collapse of a July 6 agreement reached over future trade ties with the EU at Chequers, May’s Buckinghamshire retreat, Johnson departed the cabinet after he told May he could no longer serve with the prime minister’s blurred Brexit policy.
According to sources, when senior cabinet ministers ostensibly reached an agreement to depart the European bloc at Chequers, the working group rejected a White Paper laying out Johnson’s and Brexit Secretary David Davis’ Brexit vision.
Under May’s soft British exit strategy, the U.K. would sign a deal while remaining obligated to EU trade rules and regulations, a matter of which Johnson has repeatedly expressed strong objections.
In a missive sharply critical of Ms. May’s handling of the Brexit matter, Johnson’s resignation letter read, in-part:
“Brexit should be about opportunity and hope. It should be a chance to do things differently, to be more nimble and dynamic, and to maximise the particular advantages of the UK as an open, outward-looking global economy.”
“We have postponed crucial decisions . . . with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.”
Johnson’s departure from May’s cabinet follows the sudden resignations of Brexit secretary Dave Davis, who quit on Sunday. A Davis aide, Steve Baker, also abruptly departed Monday.
Both Davis and Baker were strongly allied with Johnson in May’s deeply-divided cabinet.
Mr. Davis has been replaced by Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, who previously served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
[BBC] [Express] [Photo courtesy AP/ITV]