Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns | News | DW | 08.07.2018
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Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns

Chief Brexit negotiator David Davis wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May that he no longer wanted to be her "conscript." His move comes days after May announced she'd united her Cabinet behind an EU exit plan.

David Davis, Britain's chief negotiator in talks over the country's planned departure from the European Union, has quit his post.

The move has threatened Theresa May's future as UK prime minister only 48 hours after her Cabinet appeared to have agreed on a controversial proposal to offer the EU a post-Brexit free trade deal for goods.

Read more: EU Customs Union, Single Market, Brexit — What you need to know

Davis and May exchange letters:

  • Davis announced his resignation in a letter to May's office. He justified the decision on what he said was Britain's problematic Brexit policy, writing that it would leave the country "in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one."
  • The government, he added, also risked making "the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real," handing over "large swathes of our economy to the EU," and "not returning control of our laws in any real sense."
  • "The national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript," he wrote.
  • May thanked Davis for his service in a written reply to his letter, but wrote that she did not agree with his "characterization" of the government's Brexit policy. The proposal signed off on Friday, she added, met the criteria for an acceptable post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
  • Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Steve Baker, a junior minister in Britain's Brexit Department, also resigned.

Read more: FAQ: The Brexit negotiations

'Theresa May has no authority left'

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested Theresa May should resign in response to Davis' resignation, writing on Twitter: "David Davis resigning at such a crucial time shows @Theresa_May has no authority left and is incapable of delivering Brexit."

Davis says May can survive his resignation: Talking to BBC's Radio 4 on Monday, Davis said he would not be calling for May to step down or challenge her for Tory leadership.

"I like Theresa May, I think she's a good prime minister," Davis said, emphasizing that May would be able to survive his resignation. "She deserves support but on [Brexit] we have a different strategy."

Who is David Davis? The Conservative Party politician headed the Department for Exiting the European Union and acted as London's chief envoy in negotiations with Brussels that began in mid-2017. Davis was considered among the most ardent Brexit supporters in May's Cabinet and had reportedly threatened to resign multiple times before.

Brexiteer anger: The Cabinet agreement on a post-Brexit free trade deal was initially seen as a win for May. She has been fighting to keep her government united on a common Brexit strategy as negotiations enter their final phase in the run-up to Britain's departure in March 2019. But hardliners adamant that Britain should seek a clean break with the EU quickly railed against the proposal, arguing it would keep Britain too close to the bloc.

amp,dj/ng (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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