Mayday! Government meltdown as Boris quits

Missing: Johnson was absent from a meeting about a British woman killed by Novichok. © Getty

Will Theresa May survive? The prime minister faces the most perilous week of her premiership after Boris Johnson’s shock resignation yesterday. Could this finally be the end?

Theresa May’s government has been plunged into crisis following Boris Johnson’s resignation as foreign secretary.

He became the second senior cabinet minister to quit after Brexit Secretary David Davis’s exit on Sunday night in protest at May’s new Brexit plan.

His letter of resignation was devastating: “Brexit should be about opportunity and hope… That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.”

In the words of the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, it has turned an “embarrassing and difficult situation for the PM into potentially a full-blown crisis”.

Speculation is now rife that a Tory Party leadership election is beckoning.

May still insists that nothing has changed. But a final showdown between the hard Brexiteers and the soft Brexiteers has never looked more likely.

Yesterday, Tory MPs met to discuss May’s future. They would only need 48 names to trigger a vote of no confidence in May, thereby causing a leadership election.

That process could then take three months — and it is almost exactly three months until the next summit with the EU.

Will May hold on?

May not last the week

No way, say some. If May was vulnerable before all this, her position is completely untenable now. She faces two options: drop her Chequers plan or see more ministers resign. She is too stubborn to backtrack and the crisis will deepen. She is disliked by both Leavers and Remainers. This, finally, is the end.

She cannot and will not leave now, reply others. The upcoming months are critical for Britain with so little time left before a Brexit deal must be struck. May could easily have stood down after last year’s election, but she understood that the country needed stability. New leadership would plunge the country into even greater chaos. May will hold on.

You Decide

  1. Will Theresa May still be prime minister in a month’s time?

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  1. Summarise this story in no more than 100 words.

Some People Say...

“We are truly headed for the status of colony.”

Boris Johnson

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Boris Johnson resigned as foreign secretary less than 24-hours after David Davis quit his job as Brexit secretary. Both walked out in protest against Theresa May’s plans for a much soft Brexit than she initially promised.
What do we not know?
What on earth happens next. We do not know whether Boris Johnson is planning a leadership bid, or who he would support if May was ousted.

Word Watch

David Davis
Davis was replaced by Dominic Raab, a Brexiteer who had previously been housing minister.
Leadership election
In Conservative Party leadership elections, MPs present a choice of two candidates to the whole party. Then, party members vote for their preferred candidates from the shortlist using a “one member one vote” system.
Chequers
May thrashed out her new Brexit plan at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence in Buckinghamshire.

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