The Address | Benghazi – Libya
(CNN)UK Prime Minister Theresa May is attempting to face down the biggest crisis of her leadership, denouncing her former Foreign Secretary over his failure to back her Brexit strategy and demanding loyalty from the rest of her Cabinet.
May delivered a stinging rebuke to Boris Johnson, who became the second leading pro-Brexit figure to quit the Cabinet within 24 hours on Monday after David Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary on Sunday night. Three other junior members of her government also stepped down, in a tumultuous day for the Prime Minister.
She moved swiftly to replace the ministers who quit, in a move that suggested she was prepared for resignations after securing a hard-won deal on Brexit at a special Cabinet summit Friday. That deal, which will form the basis of negotiations with the EU, envisages a closer future relationship with the EU than many Brexit supporters in her Conservative party can stomach.
But May’s calculation is that they do not have enough support to topple her. Under the rules of her party, May can face a no-confidence vote if at least 15% of Conservative members of Parliament demand one — 48 at the current count. But she would almost certainly survive, as opponents would need to muster 159 MPs to vote against her.
Late Monday, May replaced Johnson with Jeremy Hunt, formerly the Health Secretary, who campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU in the runup to the 2016 Brexit referendum. His appointment means that the four most senior positions in the UK executive — Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary — are now held by people who campaigned for Remain in the referendum.
Davis’ replacement, Dominic Raab, supported the Leave campaign, but not in as high profile a role as Johnson or Davis.