Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis quits, Europe News & Top Stories

David Lidington

But it pulled back on news that British Brexit Secretary David Davis had resigned, a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The official portrait of David Davis.

Mr Davis said the "current trend of policy and tactics" was making it look "less and less likely" that Brexit would deliver on the referendum result and the Tory commitments to leave the EU customs union and single market.

The resignation was swiftly followed by that of Steve Baker and Suella Braverman, who are not members of the Cabinet but were the Brexit Department's other elected Brexit supporters.

The letters were apparently not orchestrated by Jacob Rees-Mogg or his European Research Group (ERG) faction of Tory backbenchers, which comprises the bulk of the parliamentary party's Brexiteers, but were a "spontaneous" response to the Prime Minister "traducing those who voted to leave [the] EU".

The move threatens to plunge prime minister Theresa May's administration into chaos and has shattered the fragile peace that had been established after a meeting at Chequers on Friday had appeared to establish unity in the ruling Conservative party over the direction that the government would take on Brexit.

On Monday, May is due to brief lawmakers on the plan agreed by the Cabinet during its 12-hour meeting.

In his resignation letter, he blamed the "dilution" of what he said was a firm Chequers agreement, delays to the White Paper, and omissions from the "backstop" customs proposal that would leave the United Kingdom in a "weak negotiating position at best".

French gangster flees prison in spectacular helicopter escape
But he was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of masterminding a robbery that resulted in the death of a police officer. Before the 2010 robbery, he had served a decade behind bars until he convinced officials he regretted his past.

The government still has to negotiate a deal with Brussels, where sources warned the customs compromise looked very similar to the so-called new customs partnership the European Union rejected as "magical thinking" 11 months ago.

"A very soft Brexit means that we haven't left, we are simply a rule-taker", he said.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox put his name to a newspaper article backing the plan, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove defended the agreement in a TV interview.

His departure could embolden Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers - who have long considered May too prone to compromise with the European Union - to challenge her leadership.

Asked if the prime minister could survive.

She said the government's Brexit plan was "far from perfect" but marked "grown-up steps". I call on the Prime Minister to see sense and bring forward a plan that heeds the mounting evidence against a hard Brexit from opposition parties, the business community and the devolved administrations. Those talks have all but stalled over difficulties in finding a solution to issues such as the future of the Irish border after Brexit and how goods will flow across it.

Conservative MP and Remainer Anna Soubry did not refer directly to Mr Davis' resignation, but tweeted it was "not the time for egos, grandstanding and blind ideology".

Boris Johnson, a leading critic of the plans, spent several minutes at the Chequers summit spelling out his concerns, saying anybody defending the deal would be "polishing a turd" if they tried then to sell it to the party and the public.

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