Britain's Top Brexit Official Abruptly Quits

Davis says PM is undermining exit deal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2018 12:41 AM CDT
Britain's Top Brexit Official Abruptly Quits
Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis, left, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson listen to Prime Minister Theresa May as she speaks in the House of Commons in London last year.   (Parliamentary Recording Unit via AP)

Britain's most senior official in charge of negotiating the country's exit from the European Union resigned Sunday, accusing Prime Minister Theresa May of undermining Brexit with her plan to keep close trade ties with the bloc. Brexit Secretary David Davis quit just two days after May announced she had finally united her quarrelsome government behind a plan for a divorce deal with the EU, the AP reports. 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." Davis' late-night resignation undermined May's already fragile government, which has lost several ministers in the past year over sexual misconduct allegations and other scandals.

Davis was a strong pro-Brexit voice in a Cabinet divided between supporters of a clean break with the bloc and those who want to keep close ties with Britain's biggest trading partner. His departure could embolden Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers—who have long considered May too prone to compromise with the EU—to challenge her leadership. May is due to brief lawmakers Monday on the controversial plan, which seeks to keep the UK and the EU in a free-trade zone for goods, and commits Britain to maintaining the same rules as the bloc for goods and agricultural products. Some Brexit-supporting lawmakers are angry at the proposals, saying they will keep Britain tethered to the bloc and unable to change its rules to strike new trade deals around the world.

(More Brexit stories.)

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