May under threat as top Tories quit over Brexit


Boris Johnson has resigned as British Foreign Secretary, following the departure earlier today of Brexit Minister David Davis, amid a growing crisis within the Conservative Party over London’s Brexit strategy.

Johnson said the Brexit “dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt”, days after the Tory cabinet had appeared to agree to support Theresa May’s Brexit plan. “We are headed for the status of a colony,” Johnson declared in his resignation letter.

In his own letter, Mr Davis (pictured, right) said he did not “believe” in the Brexit plan and he was not the best person to deliver it. Prominent Leave campaigner Dominic Raab has been appointed to replace him.

Speculation continues that internal discontent by Brexiteers could lead to an early vote of no confidence against Theresa May. However, at a meeting this evening of the ‘1922 Committee’, the parliamentary group of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, May was reported to have received “strong backing”.

The committee has not said that it has received the necessary indication from 48 Tory MPs to trigger a motion of no confidence, meaning that under parliamentary rules, May’s leadership is secure for now.

However, the conflict seems far from over, and the trickle of resignations continued this evening with the departure of Chris Green, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the British Department For Transport. Conor Burns MP, Parliamentary Secretary under Boris Johnson, has also quit. Uncertainty remains about the stance of other senior Brexiteers, such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove.

Even if the current wave of dissent comes to nothing, the fate of the Irish border hangs in the balance amid doubts over the detail of May’s Brexit plans.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald has said that Ireland must not become collateral damage amid the Tory ‘civil war’. The Sinn Fein president was speaking after meeting business leaders in Belfast.

“Our sole priority is the protection of Irish interests north and south,” Ms McDonald said.

“The civil war within the Tory Party is a matter for the Tories, and let no-one imagine that Ireland will be the collateral damage for the Tory Brexit or for that matter that we will pick up the tab for the Tory civil war.”

The Sinn Fein leader also warned that Britain should not “persist with a strategy that is about brinkmanship”.

“We need an answer to the Irish question, Europe has provided that answer by way of the Irish protocol [maintaining the current border regulations by default]” she said.

“Mrs May seems still to be at sixes and sevens and is causing confusion in terms of what her and her Government’s position is.

“They say they are leaving the customs union and the single market, we know that the stated objectives of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, avoiding a hardening of the border, protecting citizens’ rights, demands that specific arrangements are agreed for the north of Ireland.”

Asked for her view on the Chequers deal, Ms McDonald said it appeared to be selective about the freedom of movement of goods.

“I don’t imagine that the European negotiators will countenance that,” she said. “You can’t cherry-pick the internal market, and Europe can’t and won’t break its own rules.”

She said she would await the publication of the British government’s white paper.

“But all of this gets set to nothing if Mrs May insists the north of Ireland must exit the customs union and the single market.

“You can’t make that assertion on one hand, and on the other hand insist that you will ensure there is no hardening of the border and protect the Good Friday Agreement.

“That is a contradictory position.”

She added: “We didn’t choose Brexit, Brexit is a British phenomenon and Mrs May, or whoever the prime minister is, needs to keep their word and their stated position in protecting the Good Friday Agreement.”

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