David Davis, the secretary of state for leaving the EU, handed in a shock resignation letter to the prime minister on Sunday night, leaving the government's Brexit strategy in disarray at a crucial point in negotiations with the EU.
Davis, who has been leading negotiations with the EU since the UK voted to leave in 2016, quit days after Theresa May managed to secure her cabinet’s support for a softer Brexit plan at her Chequers country retreat.
May had hoped this cabinet-wide agreement for a complex set of proposals that promised the UK would gain control from the EU in a number of key areas in return for regulatory alignment in others, would quell a possible rebellion from hardline Brexiteer MPs.
But Davis' resignation letter set out a number of Brexit policy disagreements with May over the last two years and said that “the current trend of policy and tactics is making it look less and less likely" that the Conservative party will deliver on its manifesto promise to leave the customs union and single market.
“The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one,” he said.
"The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real."
The prime minister thanked Davis for his service as Brexit secretary, but hit back against his scathing assessment of her deal.
"I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday," she said. "Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the resignation showed the government was now unable to deliver Brexit and accused May of clinging on to preserve her career.
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