Theresa May faces the collapse of her government after Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary.
The Tory giant’s departure comes less than 24 hours after Brexit Secretary David Davis quit in protest at Mrs May’s “dangerous” plan for leaving the EU.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work.”
The Prime Minister is now dangling by a thread as she faces the prospect of a leadership challenge. To trigger one takes just 48 MPs calling for her to go.
Mrs May triggered the calamitous string of resignations with a summit at her country retreat Chequers, where the Tory Cabinet agreed a major shift to soft Brexit.
The Prime Minister enraged Brexit-backers by agreeing a “common rulebook” between Britain and the EU for goods imported to the UK.
Doubts were raised over the Foreign Secretary’s support after it emerged he’d described the plan as “polishing a turd” at the Chequers summit.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen compared the Foreign Secretary to Neville Chamberlain, accusing him of “waving the white flag of appeasement in the direction of Brussels”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg , who leads about 60 Tory Brexiteers, said the “defeatist” plan was “not Brexit” and demanded Mrs May give it up.
Mr Johnson made his dramatic announcement after hours of fevered speculation as he failed to turn up to a Western Balkans summit in London.
Journalists were repeatedly told he was set to leave his official residence in opulent Carlton Gardens only for him not show up.
The news broke as Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington led a briefing for Labour MPs on her Chequers plan – which Labour have signalled they won’t back.
One MP, Stephen Doughty, tweeted: “Currently in most surreal meeting ever – a dry civil servant presenting a cabinet plan to opposition MPs that’s already fallen apart while news that Boris has quit circulates room – totally bizarre.
“Government falling apart before our eyes.”
Chequers Brexit deal explained – and why it’s forced David Davis to resign.
Theresa May agreed a major shift to soft Brexit at her country retreat Chequers –
prompting her Brexit Secretary David Davis to quit.
The ‘third way’ plan for UK customs rules proposed keeping the UK closely aligned with the EU in a new “free trade area” for goods.
This will include sharing a “common rulebook” for all goods including agricultural and food products – and a possible compromise on migration.
To appease Brexiteers, Parliament would keep the right to block future changes to the trading rules. But David Davis said this olive branch was meaningless in practice.
The deal also proposes a “common rulebook” with the EU on state aid rules, and agrees to “step up” backup plans for a No Deal Brexit. A full White Paper was due to be published on Thursday 12 July.