British Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership is coming under increasing pressure after her government was hit by more resignations over her Brexit policy.
Conservative MPs Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield stood down Wednesday morning (AEST), warning that Mrs May’s plans for close links with Europe after Brexit risk handing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn the keys to 10 Downing Street.
Their resignations came after Mrs May chaired the first meeting of her new cabinet following the departure of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and chief Brexit minister David Davis.
Mr Johnson, who many speculate will mount a leadership challenge against Mrs May, was scathing in his resignation letter Tuesday, describing the PM’s proposed Brexit plans as reducing the UK to “the status of [a European] colony.
US President Donald Trump, who arrived in Europe on Thursday morning ahead of a NATO summit and meetings with the UK and Russian leader, described the situation in the UK as being “in turmoil”.
While declining to comment on the future of Mrs May’s leadership, he did say he counted Mr Johnson as a friend and said he may speak with him in the UK.
“He’s been very, very nice to me, very supportive. I like Boris Johnson, I’ve always liked him,” Mr Trump said.
The latest resignations were announced less than an hour before Mrs May was due to face the press alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an international summit in London.
In her resignation letter, Caulfield warned that Mrs May’s policy “may assuage vested interests, but the voters will find out and their representatives will be found out”.
“This policy will be bad for our country and bad for the party,” said the Lewes MP.
“The direct consequences of that will be Prime Minister Corbyn.”
Mr Bradley said that the Brexit plan agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers would damage the UK’s opportunities to develop global trade and be “an outward-looking nation in control of our own destiny” following Brexit.
“Being tied to EU regulations and the EU tying our hands when seeking to make new trade agreements will be the worst of all worlds,” wrote the Mansfield MP, who voted remain in a constituency where more than 70 per cent of voters opted to leave.
“If we do not deliver Brexit in spirit as well as in name, then we are handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to No.10.”
Earlier in the day, Mrs May was bolstered by the support of senior Brexiteers in her Cabinet.
Michael Gove left no doubt that he would not follow Boris Johnson and David Davis out of the Cabinet, declaring that he backed the Prime Minister’s plans “100 per cent”.
International trade secretary Liam Fox was seen to shake his head and mouth the word “no” when reporters asked him on his way out of cabinet whether he was about to quit.
Jeremy Hunt, appointed foreign secretary as Mrs May carried out a hurried reshuffle of her top team, vowed that he would be “four square” behind her in driving through her Brexit plan.
Mr Gove told ITV he was “absolutely not” planning to resign.
Asked whether Mrs May was in trouble following the rash of departures from her government on Monday, he replied: “No.”