Setting out vision for future ties, Britain’s Theresa May presses Brexit plans

Thursday, 12 Jul, 2018

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Davis quit at the start of this week in protest over the strategy. Brexit meant Brexit, but now it appears Brexit means remaining subject to European laws.

Boris Johnson has done the right thing... finally.

The odds on the Prime Minister still leading the country in 2019 have shortened drastically in recent days, despite backbenchers rallying around her following a series of hastily arranged meetings with party whips.

"I don't believe it was possible to move the Brexit negotiations forward without having that moment when the majority of the conservative party were willing to face down the hard-line Brexiteers", said Mr Coveney.

It comes as federal minister Christopher Pyne reassured the United Kingdom that Australia will have a good relationship with the country's new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt following Boris Johnson's resignation.

While British Prime Minister Theresa May might have hoped her meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump Friday could draw a line under the spate of resignations she suffered early in the week, it is likely to only further expose her weakness and divided leadership.

The resignations have plunged her government into a crisis that could challenge her leadership and result in a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The Daily Telegraph said on Tuesday night that senior Brexiteers said that they have enough letters in hand to trigger a confidence vote and will submit them unless she hardens her Brexit plans.

Johnson, a polarising figure and a former mayor of London, was a leading spokesperson for the campaign calling for Britain's departure from the European Union in advance of a June 2016 referendum. May's supporters are now reported to be anxious that more ministers could go and a no-confidence vote could be triggered.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said it has been a good week for the Brexit process despite the resignations that followed the publication of Theresa May's Chequers proposals. The Conservatives now have 316 MPs so 48 of them would need to write such letters to challenge May.

Asked if he was planning to quit, environment Secretary Michael Gove said "absolutely not".

It comes as ministers prepare to publish a long-awaited white paper on the UK's future relationship with the European Union, revealing the detail of how Mrs May plans trade and customs to work after Brexit.

Britain would leave the EU's single market and customs union as planned, to end free movement of people and sign its own non-EU trade deals.

"We deliver that Brexit and we do it in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods and meets our commitment to Northern Ireland", she added.

Stewart Jackson, former special adviser to Mr Davis, said No 10 had blocked his reappointment in the role under new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.