Shock as Brexit minister and his deputy quit fragile UK government

BBC Newsnight

"Fantastic news. Well done David Davis for having the principal and guts to resign", Brexit campaigner and Conservative lawmaker Andrea Jenkyns said on Twitter.

Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone supported David Davis' decision to quit just days after crunch talks at the Prime Minister's Chequers summit.

The official portrait of David Davis.

In his resignation letter, Mr Davis said he could no longer be an "reluctant conscript" to the Prime Minister's strategy on leaving the EU.

In a resignation letter circulated by local reporters, Davis told May he has repeatedly disagreed with the government over the a year ago and that it is looking "less and less likely" that the government can deliver Brexit per voters' wishes.

He also said "the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one".

The PM was thought to have secured her Cabinet's backing to negotiate a softer version of Brexit during a crunch meeting at her country retreat on Friday.

The EU is not in a generous mood and views Mrs May's plan as "cherry-picking" from the single market to suit the British economy and the whims of Eurosceptic cabinet ministers. Her...

Former MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson has left his role as a special adviser in the Government following the surprise resignation of the Brexit Secretary.

His resignation has been followed by that of Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman.

A new secretary would be announced on Monday, May's office said.

She said: "I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union".

- To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of a committee which represents the interests of Conservative members of parliament who are not part of the government.

While May's plan for exiting the European Union has not been fully revealed to all members of her party - let alone to Parliament, the business community or the public - the brief outline that was released shows she supports a middle way of compromise with Brussels, keeping Britain closely aligned with Europe on standards, "a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products".

The letters were apparently not orchestrated by Jacob Rees-Mogg or his European Research Group (ERG) faction of Tory backbenchers, which comprises the bulk of the parliamentary party's Brexiteers, but were a "spontaneous" response to the Prime Minister "traducing those who voted to leave [the] EU".

What appears to have kickstarted the resignations, however, is May's reintroduction of "collective responsibility", a British convention which means ministers are formally banned from disagreeing with government policy, including the Brexit plan.

She also said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove is the favourite to take on the vacant post.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson backed the proposals at Chequers, despite claiming that defending the plans was like "polishing a turd" during the meeting.

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