Theresa May in trouble as Brexit chief quits

Theresa May and David Davis

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson resigned his post on Monday over a disagreement on the UK's Brexit strategy.

Johnson's dramatic resignation followed those of David Davis and his deputy Steve Baker over May's plans to keep Britain economically close to the bloc.

Mrs May told MPs that the plan agreed by the cabinet at Chequers was the basis of a "responsible and credible" offer to restart renegotiations with the EU. The tousle-headed blond Johnson is one of Britain's best-known politicians, and one of the most prominent advocates for Brexit.

What has the Prime Minister said in response?

"The government now has a song to sing", he said. A leaked British government document estimated Belfast's growth would decline by 12 percent over 15 years if no agreeable trade deal is made.

"It's a step towards a much softer Brexit".

"It's time for her & her party to put country before party & go".

Mrs May insists her plans are the "the best way to honour" the Brexit vote, amid a deepening political crisis.

"I would be surprised if one [a leadership contest] is precipitated and if there is, I suspect she'd win it", he said.

"My concern is about the policy rather than the individual", he said.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, but the two sides have yet to agree how trade will work between the UK and the EU afterwards.

Ambassador Johnson said he would facilitate a meeting between Trump and Boris Johnson, who is seen as a potential challenger to May, telling BBC radio: "If the president wants to do that and he feels it's appropriate, he'll make that decision".

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Conservative MP Marcus Fysh said Chancellor Philip Hammond wants the United Kingdom to stay in a customs union and suggested the Chequers plan was a ploy to make that happen.

Speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, Mrs May repeated her assertion that the Chequers agreement delivered on her Brexit red lines - leaving the EU's single market and customs union.

Government unity began to fray within hours.

May's proposals for a "common rulebook" on goods "hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU", he said.

Why did David Davis resign?

Johnson warned Britain was headed for the "status of colony" of the European Union after it leaves in March, and said the Brexit "dream is dying".

May defended her Brexit plan to lawmakers in the House of Commons on Monday, with Johnson absent from his usual place on the Conservative front bench.

"It is a vision that respects the result of the referendum, and delivers a principled and practical Brexit".

Her proposal would see Britain adopt European Union rules for trade in goods after Brexit, but maintain flexibility for its key services sector and end freedom of movement. Johnson said the plan would make it much more hard to do trade deals. Working out how to keep the now invisible border free of tariffs and customs checks has been a major stumbling block in negotiations.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who leads the influential European Research Group of leave-supporting MPs, said the PM's red lines were "rubbed out" at Chequers where attendees had been "steam-rollered" into supporting the PM's policies.

"We're extremely confident in the ability of the U.K.to plough through this issue with Brexit and move on", he said. Slightly more likely was a welter of resignations among the Cabinet's heavyweight Leavers.

Dominic Raab was appointed Brexit secretary by Mrs May after Davis' resignation. "He s been very, very nice to me, very supportive".

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