LONDON — Britain's prime minister on Monday appointed Dominic Raab, a staunchly pro-Brexit lawmaker, to replace David Davis as the most senior official in charge of negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union.
Davis quit late Sunday, saying he could not support May's plan to maintain close trade and regulatory ties with the EU, commonly known as a “soft Brexit,” after the departure takes place next year. The junior Brexit minister Steve Baker also resigned, Downing Street confirmed Monday.
The resignations dealt yet another blow to the beleaguered leader, just two days after she announced she had finally united her quarrelsome government behind her plan for a divorce deal with the EU.
Davis said Monday that he believed Britain was “giving too much away, too easily” in the exit talks, saying that May's plan “would be a risk at least of delivering a poor outcome.”
Davis departure was hailed by pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers, who have long considered May too prone to compromise with the EU.
Some want to use his resignation as a springboard for a leadership challenge, but Davis said he did not want it to become a rallying cry for May's ouster.
“I like Theresa May, I think she's a good prime minister,” Davis said.
Davis did not urge other ministers to resign, saying he was in a unique position because the Brexit secretary's job is to sell the government's policy.
“I'd have to deliver this. I'd have to do something I didn't believe in,” he told the BBC. “That's not a tenable position. ... Others don't have that same responsibility.”
May's office said a replacement for Davis would be announced Monday.
Less than nine months remain until Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019, and the EU has warned Britain repeatedly that time is running out to seal a divorce deal.
During a 12-hour meeting on Friday, May's fractious Cabinet — including Davis — finally agreed on a plan for future trade ties with the EU.
The plan seeks to keep the U.K. and the EU in a free-trade zone for goods, and commits Britain to maintaining the same rules as the bloc for goods and agricultural products.
Some Brexit-supporting lawmakers are angry at the proposals, saying they will keep Britain tethered to the bloc and unable to change its rules to strike new trade deals around the world.
In his resignation letter, Davis said the “'common rule book’ policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.”
Some euroskeptic lawmakers dream of replacing May with a staunch Brexiteer, such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who in the past has disagreed publicly with his boss.
Johnson has not commented publicly since Friday.
But leading pro-Brexit legislator Jacob Rees-Mogg said “I don't think a no-confidence vote is immediately in the offing.” He urged May to abandon her plans and take a tougher line with Brussels.
- EU, US relations sinking further after divisive Trump tour
- United Kingdom's Theresa May faces Parliament after European Union grants Brexit extension
- UK's Theresa May to ask EU for Brexit delay; long extension expected
- European Union urges Brexit 'flextension' as United Kingdom pursues shorter delay
- Theresa May to meet UK opposition leader for Brexit compromise talks
- EU negotiator Michel Barnier says chaotic Brexit becomes ever more likely
- Third time lucky? UK lawmakers hold new vote on Brexit deal
- UK's Theresa May asks a wary EU to delay Brexit until June 30
- UK lawmakers set for another big Brexit vote
- Produce growers in sunny south Spain brace for Brexit pain
- As Brexit looms, UK 'preppers' stock up and hunker down
- UK, EU leaders spar during 'robust' Brexit talks
- Germany, France say Brexit extension needs strings attached
- UK's Theresa May seeks changes to Brexit deal as EU stands firm
- Sick and elderly worry Brexit will hurt access to meds
- Theresa May's foes gather as Britain's Brexit stalemate drags on
- May battles to keep Brexit on track after no-confidence win
- UK government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat
- UK lawmakers prepare to deliver verdict on EU divorce deal
- UK leader Theresa May mounts last-ditch bid to win Brexit deal backing
- UK leader Theresa May seeks EU lifeline after surviving confidence vote
- UK's Theresa May lobbies EU leaders in fight to save Brexit deal
- Brexit could spell economic peril for parts of the European Union
- Top EU court rules UK can change mind over Brexit
- EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit
- UK, EU claim Brexit breakthrough; eye talks on future ties
- May's UK election gamble backfires as Tories lose majority
- Britain's prime minister to seek early election on June 8
- EU draft guidelines soften line on future UK relationship
- Poles face post-Brexit Europe with confusion and fear
- It's over: Britain files for divorce from the European Union
- Dire straits: Gibraltar faces Brexit chaos against its will
- UK government loses Brexit case, must consult Parliament
- UK's May signals clean break with EU: No partial membership
- British pound sags ahead of prime minister's Brexit speech
- Prime minister opens meeting on potential Brexit effects
- Obama makes likely last presidential visit to Europe in wake of ‘Brexit’
- Why the ‘Brexit’ passed; can anything be done to save the European Union?
- Britain votes to leave European Union in shocking, unprecedented move
- Stocks, commodities crash as investors shocked by ‘Brexit’
- ‘Brexit’ approval taking toll as prime minister Cameron announces resignation
- Britain votes to exit European Union; pound plunges
- Markets, bookies see no ‘Brexit’ of European Union
- British politicians make final appeals for, against ‘Brexit’ in EU vote campaigns
- Assassination of parliament member puts ‘Brexit’ on back burner
- ‘Brexit’ from European Union might be messy divorce