Is the Tory Party collapsing with resignations?
By Joe Harker
There were so many times that David Davis threatened to resign from his cabinet position as Brexit Secretary, only to back away at the last moment. Now the government has published a white paper on Brexit outlining their official stance on several key issues he has decided enough is enough and announced his resignation from the cabinet. Dominic Raab has been drafted in to replace him.
Davis quit because he did not believe in the Brexit the government was seeking, calling it a "career ending" decision made for personal reasons. Davis was a supporter of Hard Brexit and the government appears to be seeking something softer than he would like.
Davis said he felt the UK was "giving away too much and too easily" to the EU in negotiations, something Prime Minister Theresa May does not agree with. His resignation will make it harder for her to retain the support of Eurosceptic MPs and could pose a serious threat to the stability of the government.
The former Brexit Secretary described himself as a "reluctant conscript" to Theresa May's Brexit and said she needed an "enthusiastic believer" instead. Raab, his replacement, might find it difficult to conjure up enthusiasm for Brexit when there is such turmoil in the Tory party.
Stephen Bush of the New Statesman suggests that Davis' resignation could actually lead to an even softer Brexit as Theresa May will be reliant on the other parties in the House of Commons to pass Brexit legislation. They will want to soften the Brexit deal, potentially meaning the Prime Minister will pursue Soft Brexit. The Tory hardliners can cause problems for the Prime Minister but may struggle to defeat her in the Commons.
Some are predicting that a leadership challenge will follow, with MPs who do not support May triggering a vote of no confidence to start proceedings. Others believe the Prime Minister's credibility among Brexit supporting Tories is gone and they will attempt to oust her to get the deal they want.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg attacked his Prime Minister and claimed control of Brexit is now in the hands of politicians who never wanted the UK to leave the EU. Rees-Mogg is one of the main supporters of Hard Brexit and a key figure in the Eurosceptic faction, it is likely that other Tory MPs share his view.
Following on from Davis' resignation is Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, seen by many as one of the arch-Brexiteers. Johnson would be a potential candidate for Tory party leadership if it came to a challenge. He believed he could not promote the Prime Minister's vision of Brexit and ends an ignominious term as Foreign Secretary where he was most often a hindrance rather than help to Theresa May.
May's opponents in her own party have enough support to trigger a vote of no confidence but likely do not have enough to win it. Still, many believe her time as Prime Minister is over and it she goes now Davis' resignation will be seen as the starting pistol.
Who else might follow Davis and Johnson by resigning and what might that do to Theresa May's government?