UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigns to prepare possible Conservative leadership challenge
10 July 2018
Boris Johnson’s resignation as foreign secretary yesterday made him the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government in protest at UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for a “soft Brexit,” i.e., maintaining access to the European Union’s (EU’s) Single European Market, at least regarding goods.
Following the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and his junior minister, Steve Baker, Johnson’s exit has fuelled speculation that more desertions might follow, triggering a Conservative Party leadership contest.
Opinion is divided. Some believe that May still enjoys a parliamentary majority in a deeply divided parliamentary party because she can secure support on both sides of the divide over Brexit, which leaves champions of a hard-Brexit (leaving Britain outside the Single European Market) concerned to not jump too soon.
Johnson himself, while describing May’s proposals as “a turd,” initially agreed to support them but was forced to resign after Davis quit to maintain his credibility among the Brexiteers.
Unlike Davis, who stressed that he remained loyal to May, Johnson quit in a manner designed to inflict maximum damage to the prime minister. His resignation was announced as May’s deputy, David Lidington, was briefing opposition Labour MPs on the details of May’s proposals, and just half an hour before she was due to address the House of Commons.
Johnson himself was due to host a summit on the western Balkans but was a no-show, without offering any explanation. Speaking for the ministers from the six western Balkan countries as well as Austria, France and Poland, Germany’s Europe minister, Michael Roth,…