Eighth minister leaves DExEU in under three years
Chris Heaton-Harris today became the seventh Brexit minister to resign and eighth to leave the Department for Exiting the European Union since its creation in July 2016.
Heaton-Harris was one of the latest editions to the ministerial team at DExEU. His resignation follows Theresa May’s decision to reach out to Jeremy Corbyn to try and break the Brexit impasse. In his letter to the Prime Minister, he said he could not countenance a longer extension to Article 50, and argued the UK was prepared for a no deal outcome.
Only Robin Walker, who voted to stay in the EU, remains from the original set of ministers appointed to DExEU following the referendum. David Davis, Dominic Raab, Suella Braverman, Lord Bridges, Baroness Anelay of St Johns and David Jones have all fallen by the wayside since the summer of 2016.
Much has been written about the friction between DExEU and No10, and the role of Brexit Secretary in the negotiation process. Speaking to The House last December, Davis outlined where he felt the talks went wrong and explained why he felt he had to walk away.
DExEU has been used by No10 to offer an olive branch to some of the more hardline Brexiteers within Conservative ranks. Three former chairs of the ERG (Heaton-Harris, Baker and Braverman) were brought into the Government via the department. All have resulted in resignations.
- David Jones: sacked after the 2017 election
- Lord Bridges: resigned on 12 June over the PM’s approach to Brexit
- Baroness Anelay: resigned in October 2017, citing an injury
- David Davis and Steve Baker: resigned in July 2018 after Chequers
- Dominic Raab and Suella Braverman: resigned in November 2018 over the Withdrawal Agreement
- Chris Heaton-Harris: resigned in April 2019 in opposition to a further delay to Article 50