A slim majority of voters in the United Kingdom decided in 2016 that their nation needed to part ways with the European Union, a referendum that became known as the British Exit, or Brexit.
Now some two years after that fateful vote was cast, U.K. leaders are still hashing out the specifics of what an actual Brexit would look like, and a potential compromise trade deal with the EU has left some Brexit supporters — like Brexit Secretary David Davis — so disgusted that they have resigned in protest.
According to CNBC, Davis announced his resignation from the cabinet of Prime Minister Theresa May over the weekend as he refused to be a “reluctant conscript” in May’s watered-down compromise plan to “leave” the EU while still maintaining close trade ties with the European bloc.
Davis’ resignation is believed to have also spurred the resignation of a junior minister in his department named Steve Baker, and could very well lead to other resignations in the near future as well.
At issue is the belief that May’s compromise plan with the EU has betrayed the original point of Brexit — which was to make a clean break of all ties with the EU — by maintaining close “free trade” deals with the union of nations across the Channel.
“The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one,” Davis wrote in his resignation letter to May.
Davis further criticized May’s effort at maintaining a “common rule book” with the EU that would mirror many of the bloc’s rules and regulations, which to the mind of Davis would transfer “control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws.”
“It seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript,” Davis stated as the reason for his stepping down from his role.
The future of Brexit
The loss of Davis — as well as Baker, who was reportedly quite popular with Brexit supporters — among the potential loss of others casts some doubt on what the final version of Brexit will look like: will it be an actual severance of ties with the EU, or an “exit” in name only?
Brexit is supposed to be finalized within the next nine months, and the EU had been demanding that a trade deal be reached within the next couple of months, which has placed quite a bit of pressure on May to deliver on the promises that have been made to both sides of the exit deal.
The departure of Davis, and others who were strongly in support of Brexit, doesn’t bode well for a final deal with the EU, and those who wanted to “remain” with the union are no doubt thrilled at the opening that has been provided to cement trade ties with the EU while halfheartedly severing ties in other areas.
This appears to be the British establishment “swamp” in action, and it will be interesting to see if May’s leadership is able to survive this mutiny within her ranks with regard to a final Brexit deal.