UK Government in Brexit meltdown ?

Is the UK Government in a Brexit meltdown? Following the meeting of the full cabinet at Chequers, which came up with an “agreed” plan for the future relationship between the UK and EU following Brexit. It appears, however, that perhaps everyone is not actually in agreement with initial skirmishes from Brexit supporting MPs considering it to be a bad “deal”.

David Davis resigns from his position as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and chief Brexit negotiator for the UK saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

He said it was “not tenable” for him to stay in post and try to persuade Tory MPs to back the policy when he did not think it was “workable”.

“The best person to do this is someone who really believes in it, not me.”

He was closely followed by his No 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker.

Number 10 has announced Dominic Raab, a Brexit-supporting minister, to replace David Davis as Brexit secretary.

Raab was previously housing minister and replaces Davis, who resigned late on Sunday night saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative backbencher and chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, has said that the fact that No 10 is briefing Labour MPs on Theresa May’s Brexit policy suggests that May thinks she will have to rely on “socialist votes” to get her plan through Parliament.

Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary shortly before Theresa May makes a statement in Parliament.

In his resignation letter Johnson said

“The Brexit dream is dying”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been named as the new Foreign Secretary. In his initial comments he said

He would be standing “four square” behind the prime minister “so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers.

(assuming, of course, that the EU negotiation team want to play ball!)

Parliamentary private secretary Chris Green, has also resigned saying in his resignation letter,

“The direction the negotiations had been taking have suggested that we would not really leave the EU and the conclusion and statements following the Chequers summit confirmed my fears.”

It seems that Theresa May has managed to head off a possible leadership challenge, at least for the time being, following a meeting with the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs. Under Conservative party rules it is necessary for 48 MPs (15% of MPs) to write a letter to Graham Brady, chair of the 1933 Committee requesting a leadership challenge.

With the addition of Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary, the most powerful positions in the cabinet PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary (referred to as the Great Offices of State) are now held by MPS who wanted to Remain in the EU. Looks like Theresa is setting out her intention to Remain after all.

Michael Gove has urged Tory MPs to back a compromise Brexit plan as the best chance of a “proper” exit from the EU. He told the BBC it was not all he hoped for, but said he was a “realist” and dismissed claims it would leave the UK as a “vassal state”. But he warned the EU had to be more generous or the UK would have no option than to walk away without a deal.

An option from the Chequers meeting, which is being somewhat overlooked by the mainstream media, refers to increasing preparations for a no-deal scenario resulting from negotiations with the EU. In this case, the UK would trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. Preparation for this possibility should have started 2 years ago, after Article 50 was invoked, but better late than never – this could possibly strengthen the UKs negotiating position with the EU who have proved somewhat intransigent in negotiations thus far with few if any concessions being made on their side (negotiations in “Good Faith” pah).

Alarmed at the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Netherlands is recruiting 930 customs officers and 100 veterinary officials, following a recommendation from Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch centre-right MP and two fellow MPs.

“The way Britain has waited so long has imposed real costs even if it is solved.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-netherlands/dutch-cabinet-drafting-playbook-for-chaotic-brexit-parliament-idUSKBN1JZ278

The European commission are being guarded in their response to the Chequers meeting, preferring to wait until it sees the British white paper, which is expected on Thursday.

In a tweet, perhaps still thinking the UK will remain in the EU, Donald Tusk said:

“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?”

Michel Barnier tweeted:

#Chequers discussion on future to be welcomed. I look forward to White Paper. We will assess proposals to see if they are workable & realistic in view of #EUCO guidelines. Next negotiations w/ #UK on WP, & Withdrawal Agreement, w/c 16 July #Brexit

Other interesting articles/reports/comments

Tony Connelly: The Chequers die is cast

EU diplomats remain guarded over May’s Brexit compromise