Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government rather than back Theresa May’s “facilitated customs arrangement”.
May’s plan is geared to remove the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and proposes the creation of a free trade area with the European Union (EU), in which the UK would abide by a “common rule book” of EU regulations.
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed Johnson’s resignation saying: “This afternoon, the prime minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The prime minister thanks Boris for his work.”
His resignation follows that of the Brexit secretary, David Davis, and his second-in-command at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker. Johnson’s departure has deepened the sense of crisis around May, increasing the chances that she could face a vote of no confidence.
The prime minister was due to address her backbench MPs in Westminster at 5.30pm, in an atmosphere that was becoming more unstable.
According to the Guardian, Johnson met David Cameron in private before the Chequers summit, where they discussed the controversial customs arrangements May put before ministers. Johnson met the former prime minister on Thursday evening, after a caucus of seven cabinet members gathered at the Foreign Office to discuss their concerns about May’s plans for regulatory alignment with the EU after Brexit.
After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime minister’s Brexit plan as “polishing a turd”.