Updated | Boris Johnson resigns amid Brexit row

The foreign minister is the second senior cabinet minister to resign within 24 hours over disagreement with Theresa May's soft Brexit strategy

Boris Johnson resigns as foreign minister
Boris Johnson resigns as foreign minister

Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister to walk out of the British government in 24 hours.

Johnson’s resignation follows that of Brexit secretary, David Davis, and Department for Exiting the EU minister, Steve Baker.

The ministers have resigned over Theresa May’s plans for a soft Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “This afternoon, the prime minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The prime minister thanks Boris for his work.”

The prime minister discussed a compromise with her divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers last Friday, but the ministers, including Johnson, decided to not back May up.

After the summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime minister’s Brexit plan as ‘polishing a turd’.

Nigel Farage tweeted, congratulating Johnson on his resignation. "Now can we please get rid of the appalling Theresa May and get Brexit back on track," Farage said.

May is now due to address her backbench MPs in Westminster at 5.30pm (local time). If 48 MPs write letters of no confidence to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, May will face a vote of no confidence.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, also tweeted about the news. "Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain," Tusk said. 

Earlier, it was announced that Housing minister Dominic Raab will be replacing David Davis as the UK's Brexit minister following his resignation yesterday.

In a statement, Downing Street said: "The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Dominic Raab MP as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. "This follows the departure from Government of the Rt Hon David Davis MP."

David Davis announced his resignation late last night
David Davis announced his resignation late last night

Davis wrote the Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, informing her of his decision to resign, citing concerns with the direction being taken by the UK over Brexit.

In his resignation letter, David criticized the PM’s Brexit plan, saying it would leave Parliament with “at best a weak negotiating position’.

Davis has told friends he cannot live with the soft Brexit stance agreed between ministers on Friday, which proposes a “UK-EU free trade area”, governed by a “common rule book”.

Replying to his resignation, May said she did not agree but thanked him for his work.

She said she was "sorry" he was leaving but would "like to thank you warmly for everything you have done... to shape our departure from the EU".

Davis’ resignation was swiftly followed by that of fellow Department for Exiting the EU ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman. This will force Theresa May to reshuffle her government while trying to convince backbenchers to support her plan.

In his letter, Davis told May that "the current trend of policy and tactics" was making it "look less and less likely" that the UK would leave the customs union and single market.

He said he was "unpersuaded" that the government's negotiating approach "will not just lead to further demands for concessions" from Brussels.

Davis is said to have been “livid” about hostile briefing from senior figures in Downing Street about how Brexiters would be treated at Chequers – including suggestions they would be given the number of a local taxi firm if they chose to resign.

May will now have to confront furious pro-Brexit MPs in parliament on Monday, knowing she has lost the backing of one of the leavers’ champions in government.

Conservative MP Peter Bone hailed Davis' resignation as a "principled and brave decision", adding: "The PM's proposals for a Brexit in name only are not acceptable."

Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: "This is absolute chaos and Theresa May has no authority left," while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May was "incapable of delivering Brexit".

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