BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May dug in her heels Monday after the resignation of two top government ministers over Brexit negotiations whipped up a storm that threatened to topple her fragile minority government.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson quit with a resignation letter accusing May of flying “white flags” of surrender in negotiations with the European Union.
He said “the Brexit dream is dying, suffocated by needless self doubt “
Johnson followed Brexit Secretary David Davis out the door as a hard-won government consensus on future trade ties with the bloc disintegrated less than three days after it was forged, and nine months before Britain is due to leave the EU.
Davis resigned late Sunday, saying May’s plan to maintain close trade and regulatory ties with the EU gave “too much away, too easily.”
Johnson is one of Britain’s best-known politicians, and one of the most prominent advocates for Brexit.
May named one of her most loyal ministers, Jeremy Hunt, to replace Johnson in the job of Britain’s top diplomat. Hunt had been health secretary, and is a leading government backer of a compromise “soft Brexit.”
With Britain due to leave the 28-nation bloc on March 29, 2019, EU officials have warned Britain repeatedly that time is running out to seal a deal spelling out the terms of the divorce and a post-split relationship.
Two years after Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, May is trying to find a middle way between two starkly differing views —within her party and the country — of the U.K.’s relationship with Europe. Pro-Europeans want to retain close economic ties with the bloc and its market of 500 million people, while some, but not all, Brexit supporters want a clean break to make it possible to strike new trade deals around the world.
Johnson said in his letter that May’s plan to keep close economic ties with the bloc means Britain is heading for a “semi Brexit” that would leave Britain with the “status of a colony” of the EU.
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.
She said she and the two departed ministers “do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honoring the result of the referendum” in which U.K. voters opted to leave the EU.