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Theresa May’s Government Implodes as 9th MP Resigns over Soft Brexit Plan

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 30: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a campaign rally at The Grand Station on May 30, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England. Britain goes to the polls on June 8 to elect a new parliament in a general election. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty

A ninth MP has resigned from the government in the week since Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May revealed her soft Brexit plan which has been branded a betrayal of Leave voters by prominent Eurosceptics.

In the space of 24 hours, MP for Witney Robert Courts and MP for North Cornwall Scott Mann have resigned from their government positions following the release of Mrs May’s plans for future European Union-UK relations, which would see post-Brexit Britain tied to many of the bloc’s rules and regulations, joining seven others who resigned either from Cabinet or from a Tory Party role.

They were:

David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden, former Brexit Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), Resigned Sunday 8th July

The first resignation came the day after the plan was unveiled at the Prime Minister’s country retreat Chequers.

Mr Davis wrote in his resignation letter that the plan “hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense”.

He later told the BBC that the EU would wield the “sword of Damocles” over Parliament, saying that the return of sovereignty would be “illusory rather than real”.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary (DExEU), Resigned Sunday 8th July

Mr Baker’s resignation followed swiftly on from that of Mr Davis’s. He told the BBC’s Daily Politics that elite europhiles are frustrating Brexit, saying: “The reality here is that leaving the European Union is a very difficult process; one of the issues is that… the establishment in this country does not want to leave the European Union.”

Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, former foreign secretary, Resigned Monday 9th July

Mr Johnson resigned the following day and wrote that “That dream [of Brexit] is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt” and that the UK is “truly headed for the status of a colony [of the EU]”.

Rather than weakening May’s position, the resignations of Johnson and Davis allowed the Prime Minister — who voted to stay in the EU — to fill gaps in the top tiers of her cabinet with fellow Remain voters, notably Jeremy Hunt (foreign secretary).

Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Resigned Monday 9th July

Green resigned as PPS — a Member of Parliament assisting a government minister — tweeting “Brexit must mean Brexit”.

“The direction the negotiations had been taking have suggested that we would not really leave the EU and the conclusion and statements following the Chequers summit confirmed my fears,” he added.

Conor Burns, MP for Bolton West, former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Resigned Monday 9th July

A second PPS resigned on the same day as Mr Johnson, writing: “I’ve decided it’s time to have greater freedom. I want to see the referendum result respected. And there are other areas of policy I want to speak more openly on.”

Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, and Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, former Conservative Party Vice Chairmen, Resigned Tuesday 10th July

Ms Caulfield warned that May’s Brexit proposal would result in a loss of membership for the Conservative Party and would hand support to leftist Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Bradley echoed those comments, writing: “If we do not deliver Brexit in spirit as well as in name, then we are handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10.”

Robert Courts, MP for Witney & West Oxfordshire, former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Resigned Sunday 15th July

The ministerial aide tweeted that: “I have taken the very difficult decision to resign position as PPS to express discontent with Chequers in votes tomorrow.

“I had to think who I wanted to see in the mirror for the rest of my life. I cannot tell the people of WOxon [Witney and West Oxfordshire] that I support the proposals in their current form.”

Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall, former Parliamentary Private Secretary, Resigned Monday 16th July

Mr Mann resigned on Monday morning expressing the sense of his constituents’ betrayal who as residents of a coastal town, would be directly affected by May’s decision to allow the EU to have continued access the British fishing waters.

“The residents of North Cornwall made it very clear that they wish to have control over our fishery, our agriculture policy, our laws and our borders. I will evaluate those core principles against the Brexit white paper and ensure that I vote in line with those wishes,” he wrote.

Theresa May’s White Paper (the government’s proposed policy document) is to be voted on in Parliament this week.

Remainers are taking advantage of May’s weakening of Brexit with former Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for Remain- and Brexit-supporting MPs to vote against the White Paper to force a second referendum.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has called for a delay to the UK leaving the EU.

On Monday, Prime Minister May said that there would be no second referendum — after threatening on the weekend that the country will leave the EU on her terms or not at all.

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