LONDON (Reuters) – British Brexit Secretary David Davis has resigned over the handling of a meeting to hammer out a cabinet agreement for Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to leave the European Union, a source close to the minister said on Monday.
The loss of her Brexit negotiator, and potentially another junior minister in the ministry, just two days after the meeting at May’s Chequers country residence is a blow to the prime minister and underlines the deep divisions in her ruling Conservative Party over Britain’s departure from the EU.
“He is exchanging (resignation) letters with the PM,” the source said. When asked why he was resigning, the source added: “Chequers.”
The Telegraph newspaper also quoted sources as saying that Steve Baker, a minister who worked for Davis in the Brexit department, had also resigned.
After an hours-long meeting at Chequers, May seemed to have persuaded the most vocal Brexit campaigners in the cabinet, including Davis, to back her plan to press for “a free trade area for goods” with the EU and maintain close trade ties.
But Davis expressed his unease over a compromise plan right up until the eve of the meeting, writing a letter to May describing her proposal to ease trade and give Britain more freedom to set tariffs as “unworkable”.
Other Brexit supporting Conservative lawmakers have criticized the so-called Chequers “peace deal”, saying that May’s plans offered only a Brexit in name only, a betrayal of what they saw as her promise for a clean break with the EU.
“Fantastic news. Well done David Davis for having the principal and guts to resign,” Brexit campaigner and Conservative lawmaker Andrea Jenkyns said on Twitter.
“I take my hat off to you. We need to make sure this is now a game changer for #Brexit.”
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James, editing by Guy Faulconbridge