Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - May dealt blow as Britain’s Brexit minister steps down



May dealt blow as Britain’s Brexit minister steps down

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Britain’s Brexit Minister David Davis leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending the weekly cabinet meeting in June. Daniel leal olivas/afp

May dealt blow as Britain’s Brexit minister steps down

British Prime Minister Theresa May faced a crisis in her cabinet on Monday after Brexit Minister David Davis resigned over a plan to retain strong economic ties to the European Union even after leaving the bloc.

May will address parliament in the afternoon to explain her proposal for Britain to adopt EU rules on goods after Brexit – an increasingly fragile compromise reached with ministers in her own party demanding a clean break with Brussels.

Long-time eurosceptic Davis announced he was stepping down in a letter that was scathing of the agreement thrashed out just two days previously in marathon talks.

“The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one,” he wrote to May.

Friday’s proposal would “make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real”, he added.

British media reported that junior Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman had also resigned.

Davis was particularly critical of the plan for a “common rulebook” to allow free trade in goods, saying this “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 concluded that his post required “an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript”.

May replied in a letter saying that her Brexit plan was in line with her commitment to leave the European single market and customs union.

“I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed,” she said, asserting that it “will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom”.

“I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU,” she added.

‘Brexit in name only’

Davis was appointed two years ago to head up the newly created Department for Exiting the European Union after Britain voted to leave the bloc in a referendum.

He became the public face of Brexit, leading the British delegation in talks with Brussels, although his role had been increasingly overshadowed in recent months as May and her aides took a bigger role in the negotiating strategy.

The 69-year-old had reportedly threatened to quit several times over a perceived lack of firmness in Britain’s negotiating stance but had remained strictly loyal to the prime minister in public.

When she speaks to MPs at 1430 GMT, May is expected to acknowledge there have been “robust views” on Brexit in her government and is also set to announce a replacement for Davis on Monday.

Brexit hardliners have welcomed Davis’s move, fuelling turmoil within the party and raising the prospect of a potential leadership battle.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said Davis had “done the right thing”, adding: “The PM’s proposals for a Brexit in name only are not acceptable.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading pro-Brexit voice, told Sky News: “This is very important. It raises the most serious questions about the PM’s ideas. If the Brexit Secretary cannot support them they cannot be very good proposals.”

Ian Lavery, chairman of the main opposition Labour Party, said: “This is absolute chaos and Theresa May has no authority left.”

May’s plan would create a free-trade area with the EU for goods, to protect supply chains in areas such as manufacturing, while maintaining flexibility for Britain’s dominant service sector.

It is unclear whether Brussels will accept this, after repeatedly warning Britain it cannot “cherry-pick” bits of its single market.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The

  • Health ministry issues SOP for travellers

    The Ministry of Health released their official Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on October 20 for all travellers to Cambodia, with the specific instructions varying according to whether the traveller is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. The SOP document is essentially identical to the updated quarantine