Government in chaos as Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary

Posted On: 
9th July 2018

Boris Johnson has quit as Foreign Secretary in protest at the Government's Brexit strategy - delivering another hammer-blow to Theresa May.

Boris Johnson has resigned as Foreign Secretary
Credit: 
PA Images

His resignation comes less than 24 hours after David Davis dramatically stood down as Brexit Secretary, along with his deputy, Steve Baker.

Both Cabinet big beasts have gone in the wake of last Friday's Chequers summit, at which the Prime Minister's top team signed off her offer to the European Union.

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At the start of the meeting, the Foreign Secretary had described Mrs May's plan to maintain close trading links with the EU after Brexit as "a turd", but later toasted the Prime Minister over dinner.

It also emerged that Mr Johnson had dubbed the proposal as "the worst of all worlds" during talks with David Cameron on Thursday night.

Mr Johnson had been due to take part in a Cobra meeting following the death of Dawn Sturgess from Novichok poisoning, but he did not turn up.

The leading Brexiteer was also supposed to attend the Western Balkans summit in London, but was instead holed up in his official residence with key advisers.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work."

Mr Johnson's resignation came barely half an hour before Mrs May is due to update the House of Commons on Brexit.

She is also due to address members of the Tory backbench 1922 committee this evening. Ahead of the crunch meeting, top Tory Brexiteer Andrea Jeknkyns heaped praise on the Foreign Secretary for his dramatic exit.

The MP - who quit as a ministerial bag carrier over Brexit last month - told PoliticsHome: "Brexit is the most important decision that our country has made in a generation and it is vitally important that we get it right.

"Boris Johnson is a principled man and it doesn’t surprise me that he has decided to stand by his convictions and resign from his position as Foreign Secretary. I look forward to working closely with Boris on the backbenches fighting for right kind of Brexit."

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the influential chair of the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers, meanwhile told PoliticsHome that Mr Johnson's resignation "shows the failure of Chequers and the retreat from Brexit by the Prime Minister".

He urged Mrs May to "go back to her Lancaster House speech" following the double-blow to her Cabinet deal.

In his own resignation letter, David Davis had said the agreement struck by the Prime Minister's top team at Chequers last Friday "will make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real".

He added that the decision in the Chequers agreement for the UK to agree a "common rule book" with Brussels on trading standards "hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense".

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said: "Theresa May’s government is in meltdown. This is complete and utter chaos.

"The country is at a standstill with a divided and shambolic Government. The Prime Minister can't deliver Brexit and has zero authority left."

Additional reporting by Emilio Casalicchio and Matt Foster