British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned on July 9 – the second resignation from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet in less than 24 hours. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis was the first.
“This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary,” an emailed statement from May’s office said. “His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work.”
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Johnson both Davis and Johnson are said to now believe that a “no deal” Brexit would be preferable to May’s plans. She secured approval for a so-called “Soft Brexit” with the UK retaining strong economic ties to the EU after leaving.
After announcing his resignation late on July 8, Davis told British media he was stepping down because he did not believe in May’s Brexit plan, claiming it would leave the UK “in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one”.
In his resignation letter, Johnson accused the government plan of relegating the UK’s status to effectively that of a colony. He wrote: “We are now in the ludicrous position of asserting that we must accept huge amounts of precisely such EU law, without changing an iota, because it is essential for our economic health — and when we no longer have any ability to influence these laws as they are made. In that respect we are truly headed for the status of a colony… The dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.”
Addressing parliament after Johnson’s resignation, May said: “What we are proposing is challenging for the EU. It requires them to think again, to look beyond the positions they have taken so far and to agree a new and fair balance of rights and obligations.”
In a separate report, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted that the two resignations have been hailed by eurosceptic MPs in the ruling Conservative party and have triggered speculation that May could face an imminent leadership contest.
Even Davis expressed regret that Johnson had quit, and said it would be “wrong” for his departure to trigger a major rebellion.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain… I can only regret that the idea of Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But… who knows?”
According to the Spanish language news agency EFE, May has attempted to check a full-blown revolt in her cabinet by appointing Dominic Raab to replace Davis.
Raab, a respected lawyer, is known to be a staunch Brexit supporter and has experience as a junior minister in the housing and justice ministries. The 44-year-old Raab was a leading Brexit supporter during the 2016 referendum.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt replaces Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.