Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

British pound dives after United Kingdom ministers quit

12 2018 Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending the weekly cabinet meeting. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has resigned Downing Street DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS AFP Getty Images file Boris Johnson
Deanna Wagner | 10 July, 2018, 07:44

"We do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honouring the result of the (2016) referendum", May said after the departure of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis put her government on the line.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office said May accepted the resignation on Monday and will announce a replacement soon.

Johnson, one of the best-known and most flamboyant members of the government, quit just hours after the resignation late Sunday of Brexit Secretary David Davis, the government's top Brexit official. Brexit-supporting lawmakers were angered by the proposals, saying they would keep Britain tethered to the bloc and unable to change its rules to strike new trade deals around the world.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson and Mr Davis had abandoned a "sinking ship", shattering the "illusion of unity" initially surrounding the Chequers plan.

In his resignation letter to May, Johnson accused her waving "white flags" of surrender in negotiations with European Union leaders.

Britain and the European Union hope to reach broad agreement by October so that European Union national parliaments can ratify a deal before Britain leaves. In mid-afternoon trade, the pound recovered some of those losses, last at $US1.326, following the news that UK Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said he did not expect a vote of confidence against the prime minister.

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Mr Davis's deputy, Steve Baker, also resigned.

Davis said he did not want his resignation to become a rallying cry for May's ouster.

While International Development Secretary Penny Morduant immediately welcomed the decision saying Rabb is "highly capable, across the issues, attention to detail, Leave supporter and pragmatist", others said Davis' resignation has plunged Britain into "absolute chaos".

He told the BBC that he thought the United Kingdom was giving away "too much, too easily" and predicted that the European Union would be demanding more concessions in talks. In his letter to the prime minister explaining his decision, Mr Davis said he felt it was "less and less likely" that Britain would leave the customs union and the single market, articles of faith for Brexiteers. "That's not a tenable position".

When asked whether May would contest any vote on a confidence motion in her leadership, her spokesman said: "Yes". However, should she survive such a challenge, Conservative Party rules prevent her opponents from making another try to unseat her for at least a year.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a key Eurosceptic figure in the ruling Conservative party, said Mr Davis's resignation was "very important that he has given great reassurance to backbench MPs" who opposed the Chequers agreement.