The resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis could trigger a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership or lead to a vote of no confidence in the Government, a leading Brexit expert has said.
Following the news that Davis had stood down from his post Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, said the development could act as a flashpoint for May’s Government.
He also warned that negotiations between Britain and the EU now ran the real possibility of ending in a ‘no deal’ scenario and that it looked increasingly likely that an extension to Article 50 would need to be requested.
Professor Alex de Ruyter said: “It is distinctly possible that the Prime Minister could face a leadership challenge, in effect a vote of no-confidence, if 48 of her own backbenchers request one.
“It is also possible a wider vote of no confidence in the Government could be effected in the Parliament. Could this lead to the collapse of the Government and fresh elections?”
New proposals for the shape of the Government’s Brexit plans were discussed at a Chequers meeting, with Davis’ resignation said to be influenced by the likelihood of Britain remaining in the Customs Union and Single Market.
Professor de Ruyter said that Britain appeared to be ‘cherry-picking’ which elements of EU legislation it wanted to have access to.
He said: “Looking at these proposals one would be forgiven for thinking that this is just cherry-picking again. The UK Government in effect is asking the EU to give it a special deal which would compromise on the ‘indivisible four freedoms’ of the Single Market.
“EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier restated on Friday that the EU will not compromise on the Single Market – if you want easy access for goods then you have to accept freedom of movement of people too.
“It is now distinctly possible that regardless of who the Secretary of State for leaving the EU is, that the EU will reject this latest position and force the Government back to the drawing board – again. This now really increases the risk of ‘no deal’.”
Professor de Ruyter believes that with the EU requesting that any Brexit deal be agreed by October, the Government may well need for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.
He said: “The chances of meeting an October deadline are now rapidly diminishing towards zero and December appears optimistic.
“The only way out of this situation at the moment appears to be requesting an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.
“Indications from EU leaders in private are that they would consider extending the Article 50 negotiating period, to allow loose ends to be tied up and ratification.
“However, this requires the unanimous support of the European Council and the UK Government. We should also note that any extension on this basis would be for months rather than years – an important point in the event that the UK wishes a hard Brexit.”