Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis are shown in 2016. Both have resigned from the government.

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Boris Johnson resigns in major Brexit blow to UK PM Theresa May

The move leaves British/European Union relations uncertain.

July 09, 2018 - 10:33 am
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(CNN) -- The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May was plunged into turmoil on Monday with the resignation of two senior Cabinet ministers in a deep split over her Brexit strategy.

The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, quit on Monday, hours after the resignation late on Sunday night of the minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, David Davis.

Their decision to leave the government came three days after May appeared to have agreed a deal with her fractured Cabinet on the UK's post-Brexit relationship with the EU. That plan is now in tatters and her political future appears uncertain.

May appeared in Parliament on Monday afternoon to defend her plan, minutes after Downing Street confirmed the resignation of Johnson. May acknowledged the splits in her statement to MPs, saying of the ministers who quit: "We do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honoring the result of the referendum."

The Prime Minister's latest political drama began late on Sunday night when Davis quit, declaring he could not support May's Brexit plan. He said it involved too close a relationship with the EU and gave only an illusion of control being returned to the UK after it left the EU.

"It seems to me we're giving too much away, too easily, and that's a dangerous strategy at this time," Davis said in a BBC radio interview Monday morning.

Johnson's resignation came Monday afternoon local time, just before the Prime Minister was due to make a scheduled statement in Parliament. "This afternoon, the Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary," a statement from Downing Street said. "His replacement will be announced shortly. The Prime Minister thanks Boris for his work."

The value of the pound dropped sharply after Johnson's announcement.

The decision by Johnson, a former mayor of London, to back Brexit, was seen as crucial when the issue was taken to a referendum two years ago. He became a leading figure in the "Leave" campaign, cutting a charismatic figure as he painted a rosy picture of Britain's future outside the European Union.

But as Foreign Secretary in May's government, he was prone to gaffes and criticized for not being on top of his brief.

Opposition politicians were quick to capitalize on May's troubles. "Theresa May's government is in utter meltdown," said Tom Watson, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party. "The country is at a standstill with a divided and shambolic government. The Prime Minister can't deliver Brexit and has zero authority left."

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