Theresa May presses on with Brexit plan after high-profile resignations

Clay Curtis
July 11, 2018

A petition demanding a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union surpassed 200,000 signatures in the wake of David Davis' and Boris Johnson's resignation. That inherently means that, regardless of what kind of deal the Conservative-led cabinet tries to thrash out with the bloc, it will be knocked back and hardliners will make it known.

In his resignation letter, Johnson wrote: "Brexit should be about opportunity and hope". Others have voiced their support for May's premiership and against a future Labour prime minister.

The British leader may have stilled the waters over a possible leadership contest, but some Conservative Brexit supporters are still incensed over what they see as her decision to break her promise for a clean break with the EU.

In the run-up to the referendum, the Vote Leave mastermind Dominic Cummings referred to the small army of ardent Brexiters on the Tory backbenches as the "flying monkeys" - willing to defy their leader and the whips and unleash political chaos in the name of Brexit.

"Nine ministers have now resigned from the two key Brexit departments since Article 50 was triggered".

For the moment the group's strategy is a drip-drip of coordinated resignations, keeping No 10 guessing.

He was enthusiastic about Johnson, calling him "a friend of mine". On Tuesday, two more lawmakers followed them out the door.

Speaking alongside the German chancellor at a news conference in London, May rejected the charge that she had caved in to pressure from Brussels to keep strong ties with the bloc. "We will do this in a way which will be a smooth and orderly Brexit".

"But the popular will, as manifested in surveys of public opinion, suggest that at present about 70 percent of the public judge that the Government is handling the Brexit negotiations badly, and it's been on a declining trend pretty much for the a year ago".

One week later, Priti Patel quit as global development secretary over undisclosed and unauthorised meetings in Israel, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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The EU is holding fire for now on her plan. Hardline Brexiters believe it would limit Britain's ability to strike new free trade deals, and they fear more compromises are inevitable.

"This is the right Brexit", she said.

"Never have so many campaigned for so long and so hard for so little", he told Reuters. "This has got to be killed and it's got to be killed before recess".

With 316 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons, Sir Graham must receive 48 letters to call a ballot.

Earlier she said she had chaired a "productive" meeting of her reshaped cabinet ahead of the publication later this week of a full White Paper policy document on Brexit.

The final two then go to a postal ballot of all party members, with the position of leader, and in this instance prime minister, going to the victor.

The government has battled to find a way of tackling these while maintaining access to European Union markets and avoiding burdensome customs arrangements that could damage businesses, with some leading companies warning they could cut investment or withdraw from Britain in the wake of a no-deal Brexit.

A Number 10 spokeswoman confirmed to Sky News the white paper setting out the UK's future relationship with the European Union would be published as planned. Both fiercely criticised her negotiating stance.

But May's sense that she had faced down the rebels and weathered the storm is likely to have been shaken by Tuesday's resignations - which took the total number of departures since Chequers to seven - and she will be anxious about what the flying monkeys will unleash next.

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