Hard Brexiteer Raab replaces Davis
Brexit “bulldog” David Davis says he has resigned because he could not defend UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiation strategy but he still supports her leadership, as she replaced him with hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab.
Davis’s deputy minister Steve Baker also stepped down.
May faces the most perilous day of her premiership since losing the parliamentary majority in last year’s election as angry Brexit extremists accuse her of betraying the 2016 referendum.
Exposing cabinet divisions on Brexit, Davis said May’s strategy tied the UK too closely to EU regulations and gave an illusory return of control.
Raab, a former foreign office lawyer, who has served as an aide to both Davis and pro-EU Dominic Grieve. He leaves his job as housing minister.
May has chosen another high-profile Brexiteer to sell a much softer divorce than originally promised. Raab will have little time to shape the policy, as talks with Brussels enter their final stage, with almost nothing agreed.
Davis said the idea of maintaining a common rulebook for trade in goods was “painting something as returning sovereignty, returning control to the House of Commons, when in practice, it isn’t”.
“It seems to me we’re giving too much away, too easily, and that’s a dangerous strategy at this time,” he told the BBC.
Davis said he would not be a “reluctant conscript” to May’s plan agreed at the prime ministerial residence Chequers on Friday, which he said was “certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense”.
The chief negotiator said he raised concerns about the direction of policy early last week but he “lost the argument” at Chequers on Friday.
His resignation prompted some anti-EU Conservatives to call for May to change course or face a leadership challenge but Davis called for unity while abandoning his prime minister.
“No, I wouldn’t throw my hat in the ring [in a leadership challenge] … if I’d wanted to bring down Theresa May, now would not be the time. It would have been after the election.”
The bulldog added: “Look, I like Theresa May, I think she’s a good prime minister. We have a difference over this strategy. She’s got to have a Brexit secretary who will deliver on her strategy. That’s not weakening, that’s actually enhancing the effectiveness of her strategy.”
David Davis (depicted left) is a key Brexit figure. Picture credit: Eurasia Times