In blow to May, UK's top Brexit official quits government

2018-07-09 06:05

Britain's most senior official in charge of negotiating the country's exit from the European Union resigned on Sunday, accusing Prime Minister Theresa May of undermining Brexit with her plan to keep close trade ties with the bloc.

Brexit Secretary David Davis quit just two days after May announced she had finally united her quarrelsome government behind a plan for a divorce deal with the EU.

In a blow to the beleaguered prime minister, Davis told May in a letter that the government's proposals for close trade and customs ties "will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one".

Davis's late-night resignation undermined May's already fragile government, which has lost several ministers in the past year over sexual misconduct allegations and other scandals.

Davis was a strong pro-Brexit voice in a Cabinet divided between supporters of a clean break with the bloc and those who want to keep close ties with Britain's biggest trading partner.

May's office said a replacement for Davis would be announced on Monday.

His departure could embolden Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers - who have long considered May too prone to compromise with the EU - to challenge her leadership.

The staunchly pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Andrea Jenkyns tweeted: "Fantastic news. Well done David Davis for having the principal and guts to resign."

Jenkyns said Steve Baker, a junior minister in the Brexit department, had also quit. There was no immediate comment from Baker.

Less than nine months remain until Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019, and the EU has warned Britain repeatedly that time is running out to seal a divorce deal.

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