Theresa May is on the brink of disaster today after David Davis dramatically quit saying he could not back her ‘weak’ Brexit plan as it ‘gives too much away’ to Brussels.
The Prime Minister faces the biggest fight of her political life as a massive backlash from Eurosceptics threatens to sweep her out of Downing Street.
In an excoriating verdict on the ‘third way’ trade plan Mrs May forced through Cabinet on Friday night, Mr Davis said she had persistently undermined him and put the UK on track to be humbled by Brussels. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Davis said his ‘conscience’ would not allow him to continue as he did not ‘believe’ in the plan. He insisted he had been ‘clear’ at the Chequers showdown that he did not back the blueprint.
“They’ll take what we offer already and then demand some more. That’s what I fear,’ he said.
‘We’re giving too much away, too easily, and that to me is a very dangerous strategy.’
All eyes are now on Boris Johnson to see whether he will follow the example of Mr Davis – who was the public face of negotiations with the EU. The Foreign Secretary is said to have branded the blueprint a ‘t***’ during the Cabinet showdown, although he has so far stopped of public condemnation.
Brexiteers hailed the move by Mr Davis as a principled stand, with one publicly insisting that Mrs May’s leadership is ‘over’.
Allies of Mrs May fear a vote of confidence is now more likely to happen than not – with 48 letters to the ruling 1922 committee needed to trigger one.
The PM will try to get back on the front foot today by announcing a successor for Mr Davis. Names in the frame include Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt.
But she faces a torrid time when she makes a statement to the Commons on the Brexit plan later, and then addresses Tory backbench MPs this evening.
In a resignation announced just before midnight, Mr Davis told the PM that her policies would leave the UK in a ‘weak and inescapable’ negotiating position with just eight months until Britain cuts ties with Brussels.
He said that her ‘current policy and tactics’ make it ‘less and less likely’ that the UK will leave the customs union and single market – Mrs May responded by saying: ‘I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.’
Mr Davis is said to have become convinced he was ‘selling out his own country’ by staying in post. He was praised by Tory MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrew Bridgen, who have pledged to sink the PM’s proposals when they face a Commons vote.
Eurosceptic MPs have warned Mr Johnson he will blow his chance of ever becoming Tory leader if he continues to back Mrs May’s Brexit plan.
The Foreign Secretary is under intense pressure to try to force the PM out of power.
Backbencher Andrea Jenkyns said: ‘The time has come that we need a Brexiteer prime minister, someone who believes in Brexit…
‘Theresa May’s premiership is over.’
Mr Davis stopped short today of urging Mr Johnson to follow him out of the door, ‘It’s not for me to make other people’s decisions. These decisions are very very hard to make,’ he said.
Mr Davis’ deputy Steve Baker also quit the Brexit department last night while fellow junior minister Suella Braverman is expected to follow him out of the door.
The Davis-led Brexit rebellion will throw negotiations into chaos and leaves Mrs May in a perilous position as she faces the House of Commons and then a potentially stormy meeting of Tory MPs on Monday.
The PM insists she has chosen the ‘right Brexit for Britain’ and is ‘no sell-out’ as she tries to quell a backbench revolt despite being accused by some Tory MPs of trying to deliver a ‘soft Brexit’ which would keep Britain tied to EU rules.
The Prime Minister secured Cabinet backing for her strategy in a marathon meeting at Chequers on Friday and was set to urge the Conservative Party to ‘stand united’ behind her in a showdown meeting with backbenchers tonight.
But Eurosceptics plotting against the Prime Minister earlier claimed MPs have begun sending no-confidence letters, which will trigger a leadership contest if 48 are received.
Source – Daily Mail
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