By Tyler Bauer
As a result of problems arising in the Brexit process, a number of members of government have resigned in the past week. This is somewhat old news by now, but I wanted to wait to write about this until the string of resignations was over. Since the metaphorical heads have stopped rolling (for now), I think it’s finally safe to write about these events.
Brexit Secretary David Davis
David Davis, who formerly served as the UK’s Brexit Secretary, was the first member of the government to resign. This came just days after Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet agreed on a Brexit plan. Prime Minister May has unquestionably mishandled the Brexit process, as she has sought for a softer Brexit – that is, a Brexit resulting in a closer relationship with the European Union. The rest of her cabinet, on the other hand, seems to prefer a hard Brexit, which would result in greater separation between the UK and the EU.
David Davis was the UK’s lead negotiator with the European Union, and his departure is evident of the UK’s inability to form a Brexit plan which its government can agree on. Davis was willing to essential commit political suicide by resigning, saying that he made his “career-ending” decision because he thought Theresa May was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU throughout the process. According to Davis, the trend of events throughout the Brexit process caused him to believe that the UK would not achieve a hard Brexit like the majority of the public voted for.
Brexit Minister Steve Baker
Steve Baker, a minister in the government’s Brexit department, resigned soon after David Davis announced his resignation. It is believed that the UK government’s weak stance on Brexit and inability to form a unified front caused Baker to feel like his negotiating position with the EU was being undermined, thus making his job impossible.
Baker later went on to say in an interview that his department was not informed of the plan Theresa May’s cabinet had made earlier in the week. According to Baker, he and the rest of his department were “blindsided” after preparing for an entirely different plan. Although his position within the government was not quite as prestigious as Davis’, Baker’s resignation showed that this issue appears to be department-wide, rather than being contained to only one individual.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Who looks a lot like President Trump)
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned over this past weekend, saying he was unhappy with the current direction of Brexit. Johnson was one of the most enthusiastic Brexit campaigners and has always wanted a hard Brexit. Much like Davis and Baker, Johnson sees that the UK government is not on track to achieve a hard Brexit, meaning Johnson is no longer willing to carry out the government’s plans. According to Johnson, the plan agreed upon by Theresa May’s cabinet would make the UK “a colony” of the EU. The resignation of perhaps the most hardcore supporter of a hard Brexit shows that Brits will not be receiving the hard Brexit a majority of the country’s voters supported.
Conservative Party Vice-Chairs Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley
In protest, Tory Vice-Chairs Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley have resigned following Theresa May’s plan to compromise with the EU on Brexit. Vice-Chairwoman Caulfield, who has supported Brexit since the beginning, said that May’s plan did not “fully embrace the opportunities that Brexit can provide.” Vice-Chairman Bradley, who opposed Brexit but is now supporting Brexit to honor his constituents’ wishes, said he could not “with any sincerity defend this course” any longer. The fact that both of these Vice-Chairs, each of whom have different opinions on Brexit, resigned spells trouble for Theresa May and the Brexit process as a whole.
Last weekend was a terrible weekend for Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party. Unfortunately for May, things will likely only get worse as the Brexit process goes on. The recent string of resignations shows that her cabinet may be slowly crumbling around her. If things get too bad, Parliament may lose confidence in her and vote her out of the Prime Ministerial role. However, I don’t expect this to happen. The Conservative Party would get to replace May with another Member of Parliament, but placing a new politician into this situation would ruin the new Prime Minister AND the current Prime Minister. Rather than ruining two politicians, I think the Conservative Party will opt to carry on with Theresa May as Prime Minister to limit the political damage Brexit will cause.
As for Brexit, I’m less sure of what will happen. All signs are pointing towards a soft Brexit, but many Conservatives would prefer a hard Brexit. Virtually every other political party wants no Brexit or, at worst, as soft of a Brexit as possible, so I expect an extremely soft Brexit. Only time will tell what will come from Brexit.