Brexit secretary David Davis has left Theresa May in the lurch, days after she announced her final EU divorce plans. But after months of catastrophes how serious is this latest hit?
The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis MP, chose a particularly awkward time to resign when he handed in his letter to Prime Minister Theresa May on a Sunday at 11:55pm.
Queue: a flurry of commentators and journalists staying up all night trying to divine the future of May’s government, and, by default, of Brexit.
For those who missed the last episode of this veritable soap opera, Davis was at the PM’s summer residence, the Chequers, where May had brought together her Cabinet last week to discuss final Brexit plans.
On Friday May announced that the government had reached a conclusion, and that while “during the EU referendum campaign collective responsibility on EU policy was temporarily suspended”, the whip was now fully back in place. In sum, any Tory MPs disliking her final plans would have to zip it.
But the relatively “soft” Brexit devised by the Chequers meetings clearly did not meet DD’s Brexiteer standards.
In his resignation letter, Davis blames a “dilution” of earlier Brexit strategy, and delays to the divorce’s white paper, as reasons for his retreat from the process.
To May’s quite possible annoyance, Davis added:
“In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.”
May is set to make her own statement today.
But while Davis’ resignation is not good news for a fragile minority government, could it really be straw that broke the camel’s back?
Here are some other Conservative Brexit blunders of the last few months:
1. Davis is the sixth ministerial resignation in just over six months.
Previous stand-downs include former home secretary Amber Rudd and defence secretary Michael Fallon.
Government resignations since autumn:
1 November 2017 – Fallon
8 November 2017 – Patel
20 December 2017 – Green
29 April 2018 – Rudd
8 January 2018 – Greening
8 July 2018 – Davis
There have been six resignations in 249 days. That’s one every six weeks
— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) July 8, 2018
2. Brexit negotiations with EU lasted a total of four hours, under Davis’ supervision
Davis and his EU opposite number, Michel Barnier, met a total of three times in 2018. The meetings lasted all together four (4!) hours.
So will this spell the beginning of yet another snap election or will the Tories soldier on?
More developments as we get them.
Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.