Will David Davis resign from the Cabinet?
By Joe Harker
Brexit Secretary David Davis looks set to stay in his job after working out a backstop deal over the Irish border with Prime Minister Theresa May. Davis had threatened to resign from his position but a "constructive" discussion seems to have helped the government dodge that bullet.
For context, a backstop on the Irish border would see the UK keep some parts of the Customs Union in the event that a solution to the border issue was not found. The UK wants an open border without accepting freedom of movement or a Customs Union. Progress has been particularly slow in this area as the EU keeps having to explain the concept of having your cake and eating it too.
However, there are already concerns that the government's proposed backstop will be rejected by the EU. There will be three simple questions facing the idea as outlined by the EU's main negotiator, Michel Barnier. He said: "We will examine it with three questions: Is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border? Does it respect the integrity of the single market and customs union? Is it an all-weather backstop?"
The EU doesn't want a backstop with a time limit on it, but Davis fears that without such a measure there is the prospect of the UK never really leaving the EU. The next round of talks will need to find some sort of solution, but how many times have we heard that one before? Particularly where the Irish border is concerned.
This is not the first time Davis has threatened to quit. The New Statesman recounts four previous occasions where he dangled the possibility of resignation without following through.
In November 2017 he was "on the brink of resigning" after Brexiteers in the Cabinet sent the Prime Minister a proposal for the UK after it left the EU. Next month he threatened to quit if Damian Green was sacked for watching porn on a government computer, Green went but Davis didn't. In March he once again suggested he'd resign over the fishing industry but didn't. Then in April he claimed he was "ready to resign" if the government sought a "customs partnership" after Brexit.
Now with this latest one added on that's five threats to resign in eight months. Writing in The Spectator, Robert Peston reports that Davis has become increasingly disillusioned with backseat drivers in the Brexit talks. Certain Eurosceptic Tories have made repeated demands and claims, attempting to influence the direction of Brexit and sapping the power from Davis.
You know, there was a politician who spoke about the dangers of having a major referendum where the public would be voting on a "blank sheet of paper" with the expectation that the government would "fill in the details afterwards". That politician was David Davis, speaking in 2002 about the dangers of a referendum where people are voting without knowing exactly what that vote would entail.