UK Foreign Secy asks fellow lawmakers not to abandon Brexit

Ivan Schwartz
July 19, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to reassure aviation bosses that her under-fire Brexit plan won't disrupt their supply chains, and promise that the industry will flourish as Britain leaves the European Union, writes William James.

May told a meeting of select committee chairpersons that papers detailing a no-deal scenario will be published this fall.

As noted by the BBC, some critics of Theresa May regard Johnson, a former London mayor, as a possible successor, should she be forced out over Brexit.

The ex-foreign secretary said the government had become "lost in a fog of self-doubt" during his first speech to MPs since he resigned last week.

"Mr Davies said he had been contacted with concerns about the Prime Minister's Chequers plan for a "common rulebook" with the European Union on sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing".

"We dithered and we burned through our negotiating capital", he told MPs.

However, he said it's "not too late to save Brexit" and urged Mrs May to change tack and negotiate a better deal for the UK. "But we will do so in a way that is good for business and good for our future prosperity", May will say, according to advance extracts of her speech.

There was a mixed reaction to Johnson's speech which won praise from Nigel Farage, a member of the European Union and co-founder of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

In latest opinion polls UKIP has gained several points after its support collapsed in last June's snap general election which led to May losing her majority in the House of Commons.

The government avoided defeat when MPs voted against by 307 votes to 301 against a proposal by Remain-supporting members of her Conservative party that would have significantly undermined her Brexit strategy.

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"Boris Johnson's after-dinner speaking fee must have plummeted faster than the pound after that dreary, self-important resignation speech", said opposition Labour MP David Lammy.

In a rowdy session of parliament, May was challenged by one pro-Brexit lawmaker in her party to explain when she had made a decision to change her catchphrase from "Brexit means Brexit", to "Brexit means Remain".

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said: "Plaid Cymru has worked, and will continue to work with sensible politicians from across all parties to defeat this hard-Brexit".

"The result of accepting the EU's rulebooks ... is that we have much less scope to do free trade deals", he said. "We imagine there are going to be around 70 of those technical notices that will be issued".

But by sticking to her plan for a "business-friendly" departure that would keep Britain in a free trade zone with the European Union for manufactured and agricultural goods, May has thrown down the gauntlet both to backers of a cleaner break with the bloc, and to those who don't want to leave at all. The transition period is meant to give time for new trading arrangements to be introduced.

May is expected to face many more challenges to her strategy after the summer break as she works her way through a mountain of Brexit-related legislation.

"Therefore I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I have no alternative but to send a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee asking him for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister".

So what happens next and how could a vote of no confidence be triggered?

As EU governments get ready to step up planning for a no-deal scenario, the UK's new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab will travel to Brussels for talks on Thursday (19 July).

"We must try now because we will not get another chance to do it right", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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