Boris Johnson quits as UK foreign secretary amid Brexit crisis

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has resigned, a move that threatens to tear apart Prime Minister Theresa May’s government amid divisions over Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Johnson’s departure on Monday comes a day after David Davis, the British minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, also stepped down.

The two resignations leave May badly exposed and raise questions over whether she will stand firm in her commitment to pursue a “business-friendly” Brexit, or will be faced with more resignations and calls to quit herself.

“This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary,” May’s spokesman said in a statement.

“His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work.”

Johnson, a former mayor of the UK capital of London and a polarising figure, was a leading spokesperson for the campaign calling for Britain’s departure from ahead of a June 2016 referendum.

He has always supported a so-called hard Brexit, which supports relinquishing access to the EU’s single market in exchange for full border control.

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Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said Johnson’s departure left the British government in crisis mode.

“Johnson, whether you like him or not, is a very big figure in British politics and he’s a man around whom hard right-wing, anti-EU ‘Brexiteers’ could easily coalesce,” said Lee.

The departures raise the stakes for May, who believed that she had secured a hard-won agreement with her deeply divided cabinet of ministers on Friday to keep the closest possible trading ties with the EU.

But it soon began to unravel, when Davis resigned late on Sunday and launched a no-holds-barred attack on her plan, calling it “dangerous” and one which would give “too much away, too easily” to EU negotiators, who would simply ask for more.

Internal strife
Still, May on Monday defended Friday’s deal, which would allow for some ties between Britain and the EU.

“This is the Brexit that is in our national interest. It is the Brexit that will deliver on the democratic decision of the British people,” May told parliament.

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“It is the right Brexit deal for the people.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Davis’ resignation on Sunday was proof May “has no authority left and is incapable of delivering Brexit”.

“With her Government in chaos, if she clings on, it’s clear she’s more interested in hanging on for her own sake than serving the people of our country,” he tweeted.

Two years ago, the UK shocked the world by narrowly voting to withdraw from the EU after a fevered referendum campaign that sharpened regional divisions and exposed deep distrust between voters and the political establishment.

The official deadline for the UK to leave the EU is on March 29, 2019.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS


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