Boris Johnson: Britain Flying 'White Flags' of Surrender

In his resignation letter as foreign secretary, he slams Theresa May's Brexit strategy
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2018 10:00 AM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2018 3:07 PM CDT
British Politics Just Became 'Complete and Utter Chaos'
Boris Johnson is out as British foreign secretary.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, FILE)

So how goes British politics Monday? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson quit, the second cabinet member to do so in 24 hours, prompting the main BBC story to include phrases such as "full-blown crisis," "meltdown," and "complete and utter chaos." The Guardian prefers "disarray," while the Wall Street Journal likes "turmoil." And so on. It all revolves around Prime Minister Theresa May's newly hashed-out Brexit strategy. Pro-Brexit hard-liners, including Johnson, think May wants to keep too-cozy ties with the European Union after Britain formally leaves the bloc. The details:

  • On second thought: The flamboyant Johnson initially supported May's plan, which she hammered out with her cabinet late last week, though he begrudgingly referred to it as "polishing a turd," per the Guardian. After a weekend of consulting with allies, Johnson apparently decided he couldn't go along with it after all. Read his resignation letter here, in which he says the UK is "headed for the status of colony" and accuses May of flying "white flags" of surrender in the EU negotiations.

  • May's days numbered? In a statement, May thanked Johnson for his service and accepted his resignation, reports the AP. But the dual resignations raise the chances that May could be ousted from office in a leadership challenge. For that to happen, 48 MPs from her own party must call for a no-confidence vote, explains the Sun. A May spokesperson says she would fight any such challenge. Bloomberg has more details on the parliamentary math.
  • Trump visit: All this is going down as President Trump prepares to visit the UK on Thursday, and the Washington Post notes that his words on Brexit and US relations with the EU will be closely parsed. Press chief Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't give much away in a statement after the Johnson resignation: "The president continues to look forward to his working visit with the Prime Minister on July 13, and further strengthening the US-UK special relationship.”
  • Next for Johnson: An analysis by Gregory Katz at the AP suggests that the only sure thing to bank on is that the world hasn't seen the last of the "bombastic" and "foppish" Johnson. He was practically the face of the pro-Brexit movement leading up to the vote. "Now that he has resigned, and is no longer required to show loyalty to May, Johnson is likely to focus on his long-term goal of becoming prime minister," writes Katz.
  • Replacement: Former health minister Jeremy Hunt was appointed to replace Johnson as foreign secretary, the AP reports.
  • Brexit plan: The resignation before Johnson's was that of David Davis, the minister who had been in charge of Brexit negotiations—specifically, on what the trade relationship between Britain and the EU would look like once the split takes place. Put him in the "hard Brexit" camp and May in the "soft Brexit" camp. "It seems to me we're giving too much away, too easily, and that's a dangerous strategy at this time," Davis said of May's thinking, per CNN. She defended her strategy before Parliament Monday, calling it "the Brexit that is in our national interest," reports Politico.
(More Boris Johnson stories.)

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