Theresa May must fight for her position after 'remarkable' Davis resignation

Theresa May and David Davis

Theresa May and David Davis

In a blow to the beleaguered prime minister, Davis told May in a letter that the government's proposals for close trade and customs ties "will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one".

His departure comes two days after Theresa May secured the Cabinet's backing at a special summit at her countryside residence at Chequers, for her Brexit plan despite claims from Brexiteers that it was too "soft".

Mr Davis said the "current trend of policy and tactics" was making it look "less and less likely" that Brexit would deliver on the referendum result and the Tory commitments to leave the EU customs union and single market.

If Davis" resignation emboldens the faction in favour of a "hard Brexit', she may end up facing a rebellion that could ultimately block her final exit deal when it is put before parliament in a vote expected later this year.

What appears to have kickstarted the resignations, however, is May's reintroduction of "collective responsibility", a British convention which means ministers are formally banned from disagreeing with government policy, including the Brexit plan.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexit supporter, was widely reported to have described the plan as a "turd" before agreeing to support it.

But resistance to the plan from hardline Eurosceptics has been growing over the weekend.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group of Tory Europsceptic MPs was being urged to run for leader, with one even naming him as "our Churchill".

Davis, a sharp operator and a gut-instinct politician, was a "Leave" campaigner in the referendum on Britain's European Union membership. A Brexiteer hailed his resignation as a "principled and fearless decision", BBC News reported.

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Letters calling for a leadership contest have reportedly been submitted to the backbench 1922 Committee.

"Obviously if the Government and the Prime Minister continue to support that very poor offer then I won't have any confidence in the Government or the Prime Minister".

Peter Bone welcomed Mr Davis' resignation, saying it was "a principled and fearless decision".

The veteran Tory eurosceptic Bill Cash told Sky News: "There are a lot of questions in here, there is a lot of unhappiness, there is a great deal of concern that we are saying that we leave - it's not "to be or not to be", it's "to leave or not to leave".

May's office said a replacement for Davis would be announced Monday.

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".

His departure could embolden Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers - who have long considered May too prone to compromise with the European Union - to challenge her leadership.

In his resignation letter, he blamed the "dilution" of what he said was a firm Chequers agreement, delays to the White Paper, and omissions from the "backstop" customs proposal that would leave the United Kingdom in a "weak negotiating position at best".

The plan was "the ultimate statement of managing decline" and "focuses on avoiding risk, not on the world of opportunity outside the EU".

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