Political tremors are shaking the May Conservative government this morning with the news that her Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has resigned. He has stated that he does not believe in the policy position adopted by Cabinet on Friday at Chequers and so cannot place himself in a position where he has to try and sell a deal in which he has no confidence.
Mr Davis said “the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one”. The “common rulebook” plan “hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense,” he wrote to Mrs May. “I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions,” he added.
In the immediate aftermath, two of his colleagues Steve Baker and Suella Braverman have also resigned. In essence the Brexit Department has just collapsed! And all as we enter the run up to Brexit!
Just consider how bad this is for a moment. The man who May personally appointed to negotiate Brexit has said that what she is proposing is not recognisably Brexit and so he cannot stay in position any longer. How damning is that? Can it get worse?
It is reported that at the Chequers meeting that took place on Friday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declared that the deal being offered was “a turd” and added that anyone defending the plans ‘would be polishing a turd’ So now we get to see if Boris himself is a T-polisher! And the same applies to the other alleged Brexiteers in cabinet. Will Johnson seize the moment and join David, thus effectively fatally damaging May? If he doesn’t, then he is forever bound to the failing May and will be seen as a totally busted flush, appropriate given his “turd” analogy! Michael Gove who chose to publicly defend the May policy that Davis has rejected is now exposed and his political prospects damaged even further. Michael is a “turd polisher” to quote Boris Johnson.
However the Conservatives backbenches are seething with dissatisfaction over the betrayal of Brexit and the influential ERG group headed by Jacob Rees Mogg will now have their say. Rees Mogg has stated that he cannot support it, as he understands it.
Crucially, the Prime Minister must now face her MPs tonight at a meeting of the 1922 Committee, the group of all Conservative backbenchers. Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns has gone public with a warning that she would sign a letter to party chiefs demanding a vote if the details of the deal were as bad as she thought. And veteran Brexiteer Sir Bill Cash warned today a contest could be unstoppable because of the level of unhappiness at the Prime Minister’s plan.
Can May survive? If she does survive, how can she govern? What happens to Brexit now? Will there be a General Election? Could Corbyn win? Who will succeed her?
We live in interesting times!