Following the Chequers summit earlier this week, Theresa May’s cabinet has been plunged into disarray, with the resignations of David Davis, minister Steve Baker, and Boris Johnson. Both Davis and Baker have resigned from the Department for Exiting the EU, whilst Johnson has stepped down from his position as foreign secretary.
So what has caused this divide? Earlier this week the cabinet met at Chequers to agree on a Brexit plan for the final weeks of negotiation. The summit ended in the cabinet granting approval for the Prime Minister to negotiate a soft Brexit deal. Such a deal would see high levels of cooperation between the UK and European Union, on areas such as trade, law, and production. Following the announcement of this agreement, May faced severe backlash from hardline Brexiters in her party, with many warning that the proposed plan would be worse for the UK than no Brexit deal at all. Additionally, many UK firms have vocalised their criticism of the plan, suggesting that such a deal would increase bureaucracy and expense for UK businesses.
All this infighting came to a head with the shock resignation of David Davis late on Sunday night. Davis cited his moral compass in justifying his resignation, stating that he could not argue for a deal that he believes would only return a false sense of control to the United Kingdom, and would still leave the UK heavily tied to Brussels. Davis’s resignation was followed by minister Steve Baker, from the Department for Exiting the EU. Early on Monday morning, Downing Street named Dominic Raab, former housing minister, as the new Brexit secretary. But the divides have not stopped here for May. On Monday afternoon, foreign secretary Boris Johnson announced his resignation from the Foreign Office. Jeremy Hunt has been named as his successor. Given Johnson’s influence as the face of the Vote Leave campaign, many see this resignation as placing May’s leadership at breaking point, and increasing the likelihood of the Prime Minister facing a vote of no confidence.
More than anything, these resignations signal May’s constant failure to unify her cabinet behind her. Within the last year, several high profile figures have resigned from the cabinet, including Amber Rudd, Priti Patel, Damian Green, and Michael Fallon. Evidently the resignation of senior poiliticians has become a normality under Theresa May’s leadership. And it could potentially become even more so. According to sources from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, if May does not bin the Chequers agreement, we could be seeing further resignations from the cabinet.
Source-‘either she dumps Chequers or another Minister will go, then another, then another, then another’
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) July 9, 2018
This latest development in the Brexit saga betrays an entire party confused and muddled about its direction, lacking in decisive leadership and incapable of agreeing what is in the best interests of this country. Other breaking news regarding Brexit, namely the revelation that the Vote Leave campaign seems to have committed electoral fraud, with the campaign alleged to have overspent by almost 10%, only highlights the mess this government is in. Given the misleading campaigns run on both sides during the EU referendum, subsequent revelations regarding the legality of certain campaigns, and confusion and lack of faith shown by the leaders who are supposed to be steering the UK into calmer waters, it is surely time to question the suitability of those who lead us while negotiating such a crucial milestone in our history. More and more, Brexit seems to be a tool of power used in the self-interest of our leaders, growing further and further from the supposed “will of the people.”