British Prime Minister Theresa May is in a fight to save her government as two of her ministers resign over what they see as her soft stance over Brexit.
Following the resignation on Sunday night of former Brexit Secretary David Davis, Boris Johnson was the second minister to leave May’s cabinet within 24 hours of the first resignation.
Just last week, May appeared to have won her full cabinet’s agreement on keeping Britain’s economy closely anchored to the European Union. But the resignations reopened speculation about a challenge to her leadership.
May’s official spokesman on Monday rejected such challenges and said she would fight any vote on a confidence motion in her leadership.
In his resignation letter to May the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, told the prime minister the country is “headed for the status of colony” under the approach the British cabinet has adopted by the May government and adds that the Brexit “dream is dying.”
“It is as though we are sending our vanguard into battle with the white flags fluttering above them,” Johnson wrote to May criticizing her concessions to the EU.
In response to Johnson’s critical resignation letter, May replied by pointing out that he initially agreed to the plan over which he is now resigning.
“I am sorry – and a little surprised – to receive [your resignation letter] after the productive discussions we had at Chequers on Friday, and the comprehensive and detailed proposal which we agreed as a cabinet,” May said.
May: Tory dissent could hand power to Jeremy Corbyn
Hours after the resignation, May warned hardline Brexiteers to fall into line or risk handing power to Jeremy Corbyn.
After a dramatic day of twists and turns in Westminster, the prime minister addressed Conservative MPs for an hour, issuing a stark warning that divided parties lose elections and told her party “to lead is to decide”.
The Guardian reported one cabinet minister summarizing what was said at the meeting:
“If we don’t pull together, we risk the election of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister,” May told her conservative allies.
“At least half a dozen people made that point and the prime minister responded, too - what is good for the country is a Conservative government.”