UK Brexit Secretary David Frost has resigned, citing political differences.
News of his decision first surfaced in the Sunday Mail in London, before Downing Street confirmed it, publishing both Frost’s resignation letter and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response.
The resignation comes at a particularly difficult time for the British Prime Minister Belga news agency reports. Surrounded by scandals, the head of Britain’s Conservative Government faced an opposition front in his camp this week over new Covid-19 restrictions and the loss of a Conservative stronghold in England in a bye-election last week. Moreover, negotiations with the EU on post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland remain inconclusive.
David Frost said his resignation was with immediate effect. He cited the Covid restrictions, a tax hike and the policy to be followed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 as reasons for his departure.
For his part, Boris Johnson expressed regret at the resignation, given Frost’s achievements and his contribution to the Government for which, he said, he was “very grateful.”
The deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, Angela Rayner, said on Twitter that the new development reflected “a Government in total chaos right when the country faces an uncertain two weeks.” She added: “Boris Johnson isn’t up to the job. We deserve better than this buffoonery.”
Reactions from the Conservative majority included a tweet from parliamentarian Andrew Bridgen, who commented that Johnson “is running out of time and out of friends to deliver on the promises and discipline of a true Conservative Government.”
Frost, who favours a hard line with the EU, led London’s team in negotiations leading up to Brexit, followed by the talks on its implementation, particularly with regard to the application of the protocol on Northern Ireland, which instituted a new customs arrangement for the British province that keeps it, de facto, within the European single market and customs union.
Discussions have been ongoing for months between London and Brussels with a view to ironing out their differences on the implementation of the protocol, which has been in effect since the start of the year.
In recent weeks, Frost maintained an unbending stance on the issue, advocating the rejection of any recourse to the EU’s conflict-resolution system. However, London recently seemed to soften its position on the issue.
A career diplomat, David Frost worked in Brussels in the 1990s and was ambassador to Denmark from 2006 to 2008.