By Charlie Kimber
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Resignations mean deep crisis for Theresa May—now get her out

This article is over 5 years, 10 months old
Issue 2612
Theresa May could now face a leadership challenge from Tory MPs
Theresa May could now face a leadership challenge from Tory MPs (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis have shattered Theresa May’s hopes of Tory unity.

She had hoped to assert her authority by forcing a Brexit deal through the cabinet last Friday. That plan lies in tatters.

Johnson and Davis’s resignations mean there have been seven cabinet minister resignations in as many months. This is another moment of deep crisis for May.

On Tuesday two Tory party vice-chairs, Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley, also resigned.

It is possible that May will now face a leadership challenge.

If at least 48 Tory MPs send letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, he would have to call a vote of no confidence. However, many of May’s supporters in the parliamentary party believe she could win it.

The Financial Times commented, “Davis’s departure—along with Steve Baker, a junior minister at the Department for Exiting the EU—is the greatest challenge to Mrs May’s standing since she failed to win last year’s snap general election”. That is even clearer after Johnson finally felt he had no choice except to resign if he was going to maintain his leadership ambitions. 

Davis claimed that May had sold out to the European Union (EU) with her new “soft Brexit” strategy agreed last week. “We have given too much away, too easily,” he said.


Johnson said Britain was headed “for the status of a colony” if May’s plans were adopted. He had also said that attempts to sell the scheme were like “polishing a turd”.

May had pushed the cabinet to accept that Britain would continue to follow EU rules governing manufacturing and agriculture after Brexit. This was the only way to deliver what big business wants—no obstacles to making profits.

In addition the European Court of Justice would be supreme in interpreting the British-EU rules.

Such moves are hated by substantial sections of the Tories. They want Britain to be able to make its own trade deals outside any EU influence. They also see leaving the EU as a way to force through even more racist immigration laws.

May’s deal represented a victory for multinational firms and bosses. But it has torn the Tories further apart.

It is unclear how the EU will react to the new turmoil. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted, “I can only regret that the idea of Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But…who knows?” Some EU leaders might want to squeeze the British government even more to make concessions because of the Tories’ weakness.

Others may think they had better work with May for fear of seeing Britain leave the EU without any sort of deal, further destabilising the rest of the EU.

May’s deal represented a victory for multinational firms and bosses. But it has torn the Tories further apart.

Johnson will be replaced by the butcher of the NHS, Jeremy Hunt.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said that there would now be a wider revolt against the Chequers plan and that May “will be dependent on socialist votes” to get her wishes.

Labour has said that Brexit is in chaos and that the Tories ought to go.

That’s right but the Tories will try desperately to cling on in fear of a Jeremy Corbyn victory if there is an election.

Meanwhile the open racists are looking for a new political opening. Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader, wrote in the Telegraph on Monday, “If the great Brexit betrayal isn’t reversed, I’ll have no choice but to return as Ukip leader.”

It’s urgent that the left offers a way forward, not by embracing the EU but by directing struggle against the rich and their political representatives.

Only much greater resistance can break the Tories. It’s time to increase the level of struggle to drive out May—and the whole rotten government.

We also need an anti-racist, anti-austerity Brexit that favours workers, not bosses—including nationalisation of industries and defending migrants’ rights.

Meet Dominic Raab—the new Brexit secretary who hates the poor and rails against “discrimination against men”

Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, said last year that most food bank users are not “languishing in poverty”. When a disability activist told him “people are dying” under Tory austerity, he dismissed her calls for more funds as a “childish wish list”.

New Brexit secretary Dominic Raab

New Brexit secretary Dominic Raab (Pic: Chris McAndrew/Wikimedia commons)

In 2011 Raab complained of “blatant discrimination against men”. He said men should “burn their briefs” in protest and described feminists as “among the most obnoxious bigots”. He defended these remarks last week.

Raab was a co-author of Britannia Unchained, a book published in 2012 by the Free Enterprise Group of Thatcherites in the Tory Party. The book described workers in Britain as “the worst idlers in the world”.

“Too many people in Britain, we argue, prefer a lie-in to hard work,” it said. It called for workers’ conditions to be cut to compete with the likes of China.

Until February this year he had been a member for years of a private Facebook group that called for the return of workhouses, NHS privatisation and the sale of all council homes.

Raab said he was not aware he was a member.

Raab appeared on the list of Conservative MPs accused of sexual misconduct, alongside the phrase “Injunction for inappropriate behaviour with a woman”.

He wrote on his website that “any insinuation that I have engaged in anything resembling sexual harassment, sexually abusive behaviour or lewd remarks” was “false and malicious”.

In 2011 Raab gave a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies called “Escaping the strait jacket”.

Its proposals included abolishing the minimum wage for those under 21 working for small businesses and making it easy to sack “underperforming employees”. He also wants to abolish restrictions on the use of agency workers, and repeal the working time regulations.

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