The turmoil over Brexit faced by Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May deepened significantly on Monday when one of her most senior Cabinet members, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, resigned.
Johnson’s decision to leave the government came just hours after the resignation of the minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, David Davis. It leaves her plan for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union in tatters, just three days after it was agreed with her divided Cabinet. It also puts her own political future under threat.
“This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary,” a statement from Downing Street said. “His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work.”
Davis resigned late on Sunday night, declaring he could not support May’s Brexit plan, it involved too close a relationship with the EU and gave only an illusion of control being returned to the UK after it left the EU.
“It seems to me we’re giving too much away, too easily, and that’s a dangerous strategy at this time,” Davis said in a BBC radio interview Monday morning.
May appeared in Parliament on Monday afternoon, defending her plan to leave the EU. Explaining the two resignations, she said: “We do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honoring the result of the referendum.”
The decision by Johnson, a former mayor of London, to back Brexit, was an important factor in tipping voters towards the Leave campaign when the issue was taken to a referendum two years ago.
“Theresa May’s government is in utter meltdown,” said Tom Watson, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party. “The country is at a standstill with a divided and shambolic government. The Prime Minister can’t deliver Brexit and has zero authority left.”