politics

Dominic Raab named as new Brexit Secretary after departure of David Davis over PM’s Chequers deal



Dominic Raab will be the new Brexit Secretary, Downing Street has announced.

Mr Raab, formerly Housing Minister, was a key Leave campaigner during the 2016 EU referendum. 

The appointment follows the dramatic departure of David Davis from the position last night, dismissing Theresa May’s Brexit plans – which were agreed by Cabinet on Friday – as “illusory”. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Mr Davis denied his decision to resign had weakened Mrs May’s leadership, saying that he does not want to see her replaced. 

The outgoing Brexit Secretary said he had told the Prime Minister that he believed her plan “was not the best strategy” prior to last week’s Chequers summit.

David Davis explains reason for quitting as Brexit secretary on Radio 4 Today show

The 44-year-old Mr Raab, who was a business lawyer at Linklaters before becoming an MP in 2010, will now take over negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union. 

He has served in Government since 2016, working in the Ministry of Justice before taking on his role in the communities department in January.

Mr Davis’ resignation has sparked a Brexiteer rebellion, with junior minister in the Brexit department Steve Baker also stepping down. 

Outgoing: David Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary last night (EPA)

And Mr Davis’ exit has been hailed by fellow Eurosceptic Conservatives – and seized upon by opposition MPs as an indictment of Theresa May’s Government.

Mr Davis told presenter John Humphrys: “When we debated this at Cabinet on Friday my opening remark to Theresa was ‘Prime Minister, as you know I’m going to be the odd-man-out in this’. 

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a cabinet meeting at Chequers on Friday (PA)

He added: “I took the view at the time this was not the best strategy, that there were better strategies available – we have been establishing them.

“She has got to have a Brexit Secretary who will deliver on her strategy. That is not weakening, that is actually enhancing the effectiveness of the strategy.”

Mr Davis said in his letter of resignation that current policy and tactics were making it look “less and less likely” that Brexit would be delivered. 

Brexit: May secures Cabinet backing

Speaking on Monday he said: “I thought it would be a risk at least of delivering a poor outcome.”

Mr Davis denied weakening the Prime Minister’s position, saying: “I like Theresa May, I think she is a good PM. We have a difference over this strategy.”

He added that other Cabinet members had asked for changes to be made to the Brexit policy on Friday, but none had been made.

David Davis’s resignation letter to Theresa May:
 

“Dear Prime Minister


“As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission’s sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report.


“At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.


“I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely.


“Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement in February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had


agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.


“The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem.


“In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.


“As I said at Cabinet, the “common rule book” policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.


“I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.


“Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong.


“However, even in that event 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.


“While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.


“Yours ever, David Davis”

He admitted he had “lost the argument in Cabinet”, adding: “In my view, this policy has got a number of weaknesses.

“I would be front and centre in delivering this policy, explaining it to the House, persuading the House it is right, and then going out and delivering it with the EU.

“Frankly, just as it was known what the policy was, it was also known I had concerns about it.

“It would not have been a plausible thing to do and I wouldn’t have done a good job at it.”

Mr Davis attends a Cabinet summit at Chequers last week (PA)

He said it is “important to find a Brexit Secretary who believes in the strategy”, adding that he would continue to argue for the UK being “as firm as possible” with the European Union.

He said: “It seems to me we are giving too much away too easily and that’s a dangerous strategy at this time.”

Mr Davis’ resignation was warmly welcomed by hardline Eurosceptics in the Tory ranks who were already expressing reservations about Mrs May’s leadership after her Cabinet agreed a plan which would keep the UK closely tied to Brussels.

The Prime Minister now faces a stormy meeting with Tory MPs and peers in Parliament on Monday evening as she tries to keep her fragile administration together.

Mrs May had hoped that the Cabinet agreement secured on Friday at Chequers would help her deliver the “right Brexit” for the UK, with an offer to Brussels to share a “common rulebook” on goods and form a new UK-EU free trade area.

In his resignation letter, 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.

Mr Davis said “the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one”.

Fellow Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone welcomed Mr Davis’s resignation, saying it was “a principled and brave decision”, while Andrea Jenkyns said Mr Davis’s departure was “fantastic news” and hailed Mr Baker as “another courageous and principled MP”.

Letters calling for a leadership contest have reportedly been submitted to the backbench 1922 Committee by some Conservatives over the weekend.



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