Boris Johnson Resigns as UK Foreign Secretary Over May’s Plan for Brexit

Boris Johnson told Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday that he was resigning his post as Britain’s foreign secretary. He’s seen here arriving at 10 Downing St. in London last week.
Simon Dawson/Reuters

Boris Johnson has resigned from his position as Britain’s foreign secretary, hours after the exit of Brexit Secretary David Davis — who said he strongly disagreed with Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for leaving the EU.

“I am proud to have served as foreign secretary,” Johnson said via Twitter on Monday. “It is with sadness that I step down” — and he then posted an image of his resignation letter to May.

“Brexit should be about opportunity and hope,” Johnson wrote. “It should be a chance to do things differently, to be more nimble and dynamic” with the U.K. building on its strengths.

“That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt,” Johnson added.

May accepted Johnson’s resignation on Monday, the press office of 10 Downing St. confirmed to NPR. A Downing Street spokesman said, “His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work.”

Johnson’s abrupt departure comes two years after May took charge. Her tenure has been defined by Britain’s grappling with how to withdraw from decades of economic and political alignment with the European Union — the result of a campaign that Johnson and others had backed.

As NPR’s Scott Neuman reported of the Brexit chief Davis’ quitting earlier on Monday, “Davis said the so-called ‘soft Brexit’ plan, which proposes maintaining a ‘UK-EU free-trade area,’ would leave the U.K. in ‘at best, a weak negotiating position and at worst, an inescapable one.’ ”

May says that her plan — which emerged on Friday after a Cabinet summit at the prime minister’s Chequers country residence — would allow the U.K. to “avoid friction in terms of trade, which protects jobs and livelihoods, as well as meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland.”

“This is the Brexit that is in our national interest,” May told members of the House of Commons on Monday.

Briefly addressing Johnson’s resignation, May told lawmakers that she wanted to “recognize the passion that the former foreign secretary demonstrated” as he touted Britain’s global ambitions.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell