10 July 2018

Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary

Following the resignation of David Davis as Brexit Secretary on Sunday night, Boris Johnson yesterday resigned as Foreign Secretary, in disagreement with the Brexit plan agreed by the Government at Chequers last Friday. In his resignation letter, Johnson writes, “Brexit should be about opportunity and hope… That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.” He adds, “We have postponed crucial decisions – including the preparations for no deal, as I argued in my letter to you [Prime Minister Theresa May] of last November – with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.” Johnson concludes, “We must have collective responsibility. Since I cannot in all conscience champion these [the Chequers] proposals, I have sadly concluded that I must go.”

Elsewhere, former Brexit Secretary David Davis yesterday told LBC that his decision to resign was taken because the issue was “central to my job,” saying that otherwise “I’d have to be the champion of the policy which I didn’t believe in.” Davis however added, “I don’t think it [the issue] is central to the foreign secretary.”

Separately, anonymous Conservative Brexiteer sources have told the Guardian that Cabinet ministers “will keep going, one by one, until she [Theresa May] either junks Chequers or goes.” Downing Street sources however confirmed that Theresa May would contest any leadership challenge. The Prime Minister yesterday defended the proposal agreed by her Cabinet at Chequers in the House of Commons, saying the agreement “is not a betrayal” of Brexit, although she conceded disagreement with Johnson and Davis on the “best way of delivering our shared commitment to honour the result of the referendum.” May also urged the EU to engage with the proposal, warning that no-deal remains a possibility unless the EU changes its approach.

Commenting on the resignations of the two leading Brexit supporters, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said, “I can only regret that the idea of Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson.” President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker ironically commented that Johnson’s decision to quit “clearly proves that at Chequers there was a unity of views in the British cabinet.”

Dominic Raab was yesterday appointed to the post of Brexit Secretary. Jeremy Hunt, the previous Health Secretary, is the new Foreign Secretary, and Matt Hancock is the new Health Secretary.

Source: The Guardian Politico Financial Times Politico London Playbook Bloomberg

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Pro-Brexit Conservative MPs could vote against Chequers plan, warns Jacob Rees-Mogg

Chairman of the European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday warned that pro-Brexit Conservative MPs could vote against Theresa May’s final Brexit plan if it is similar to the deal agreed at Chequers last Friday, adding that there could be a “split coming from the top” in the Conservative Party if May relied on votes of Labour MPs. Rees-Mogg said, “It is very, very dangerous territory for prime ministers to rely on opposition votes…They find they are fairweather friends — they are not there every day of the week. What prime ministers need is a loyal party that backs them day in, day out.”

Elsewhere, a Labour Party source told the Guardian that Labour will vote against May’s final Brexit deal “unless it meets [the Party’s] six tests,” adding,“Even if we are walking down the corridor with Tory Brexiters, we are still voting on the lines we have set ourselves.” This comes as the Government yesterday held a briefing on the Chequers deal agreed on Friday with opposition MPs.

Separately, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer wrote in the Guardian, “The crisis that is unfolding now is a direct consequence of a divided government. It’s an impasse that cannot be resolved by further internal negotiation in the Conservative party,” arguing, ” It is now time for the majority in parliament to be heard. It’s a majority that rejects the extreme approach to Brexit advocated by some in the Tory party. The prime minister has shown she is incapable of negotiating a way forward. She should let parliament lead the way.”

Source: The Telegraph Politico London Playbook The Guardian I The Guardian II

Airbus chief calls on EU27 to be “pragmatic and fair” with UK over Chequers proposal

Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus SE, yesterday said that “the Chequers statement appears to show that [Her Majesty’s] Government are going in the right direction,” adding that Airbus was “not shy to request Brussels and our other home countries [to be] similarly pragmatic and fair.” This comes as Enders last week still warned that the British government had “no clue or consensus on how to execute Brexit without severe harm.”

Elsewhere, the influential Federation of German Industries (BDI) called on the British government to provide further details on the Chequers proposal, adding, “There can be no delays in the negotiating process.” The Association of German Banks welcomed the plan saying it “resolve[d] a number of problems,” while stressing that the UK would have to accept being treated as a third country for EU financial services after Brexit.

Source: Bloomberg I Bloomberg II

China and Germany both committed “to sustain system of WTO rules,” Merkel says

Speaking at a joint press conference with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said both countries were committed “to sustain the system of World Trade Organisation rules,” adding, “We also discussed market access – you could call it reciprocity.” Keqiang said China was willing to open further its insurance and bond markets, and stressed that German companies investing in China would not need to fear violations of their intellectual property rights.

Source: Reuters I Reuters II

Trump: other countries “must do much more” on defence spending

Ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels this Wednesday, US President Donald Trump yesterday reiterated his claim that it “is not fair, nor is it acceptable” that the US “is spending far more on NATO than any other country.” Trump accepted that other NATO members “have been increasing their contributions since [he] took office, [but] they must do much more.”

Elsewhere, German Bild Zeitung cites a leaked briefing saying that the German military was acting “on the brink of personnel capacity” and had “no scope that this moment for additional deployments.” This comes as German Defence State Secretary Peter Tauber yesterday said, “Further increases in defence spending should follow in the next years … to meet the [German army’s] needs.” Johann Wadephul, deputy chair of the conservative group in German parliament, added, “We must demonstrate our credibility, especially vis-a-vis our European partners.”

Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden yesterday signed their first ever defence pact, which will cover both peace and war times.

Source: Politico Bild DPA EUobserver

UK approach to referendums needs "wholesale reform,“ Commission finds

The Independent Commission on Referendums, affiliated with University College London, concluded that the UK approach to referendums was in need of “wholesale reform.” It said that for future referendums, the government should undertake “significant preparatory work” on how to enact all possible results. The Commission was staffed with equal numbers of pro-Brexit and pro-Remain politicians.

Source: Financial Times

New presidential system enters into force in Turkey

As Recep Tayyip Erdogan was yesterday sworn in as president of Turkey following his victory in the election on June 24, a new presidential system officially entered into force in Turkey. The system gives the president sole power over the executive and greater control over the judiciary.

Source: Financial Times Deutsche Welle