UK prime minister seeks to stem Cabinet exodus over Brexit

Theresa May and David Davis

Theresa May and David Davis

Two Conservative party vice-chairs have resigned in protest at Theresa May's Chequers plans, timing their departures to a few minutes before the prime minister was due to give a press conference with Angela Merkel.

Boris Johnson warned Monday as he quit as foreign secretary that the Brexit "dream is dying" and Britain is "headed for the status of colony" with its plan to stay close to the EU.

In his resignation letter, he said: "Brexit should be about opportunity and hope".

British Prime Minister Theresa May will publish details Thursday of her long-awaited Brexit plan to restart talks with the European Union, after facing down a revolt by eurosceptic ministers that could still unseat her.

May's botched bet on a snap election in June 2017 lost her party its majority in parliament so her government is now reliant on a small northern Irish political party.

This is not the final deal, as the detailed talks are yet to take place with the European Union on it. But leading pro-Brexit lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said he didn't think she would face a leadership challenge. "It s a good thing that we have proposals on the table".

"For the record. ERG is not expecting any further resignations, nor were we expecting any in the first place", said Mr Jenkin.

"I don t see them pulling the plug on her", Polly Mackenzie, director of cross-party think-tank Demos, told AFP.

Ms Bishop declined to comment when asked if she thought Mr Johnson would be a good prime minister.

Mr Johnson left the foreign secretary's official residence at Carlton Gardens, central London, late in the evening, accompanied by his wife Marina Wheeler, and without speaking to waiting reporters.

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It is unlikely that Brexit campaigners have the numbers to win a vote of confidence against May, triggering a leadership contest.

Downing Street made clear the PM would fight any attempt to oust her by rebel MPs.

"If they do a deal like that, it will most likely, because we'll be dealing with the European Union, instead of dealing with the United Kingdom, so it will probably kill the deal, if they do a deal like that, their trade deal with the USA will probably not be made", Mr. Trump said.

"Boris Johnson is a friend of mine", he added.

In her reply Mrs May said she was sorry, and "a little surprised", at his decision but that if he could not support the Government's position, "it is right that you should step down".

Brexiteer ministers are this afternoon, I'm told, still trying to get "edits" to the final White Paper, the souped-up version of the Chequers plan.

"Unfortunately his contribution to the development of bilateral ties with Russian Federation was rather modest, to put it mildly", President Vladimir Putin s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

May, who has tried to keep calm and carry on, replaced Johnson with a loyalist, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and gave Davis' job to Dominic Raab in a bid to shore up her authority. I wouldn't personally want to see us change Prime Minister in the middle of a set of negotiations where that would be seen as a sign of weakness by the Europeans.

Under the plans, Britain would stick to a "common rulebook" with the European Union for goods and agricultural products in return for free trade, without tariffs or border customs checks.

The Brexit Secretary was understood to have serious reservations about both the plan and whether it could be acceptable to Brussels following the Chequers summit, but was absent from the television studios in the aftermath of the talks.

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