Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns over European Union exit plan

British media reported that junior Brexit ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman had also resigned.

The resignations came after May's Cabinet formally endorsed her plan for a "U.K. -E.U. free trade area" on Friday.

"All those of us who believe that we want to execute a proper Brexit, and one that is the best deal for Britain, have an opportunity now to get behind the prime minister in order to negotiate that deal", he told the BBC.

After the hours-long meeting at Chequers, May seemed to have persuaded the most vocal Brexit campaigners in the cabinet, including Davis, to back her plan to press for "a free trade area for goods" with the European Union and maintain close trade ties.

David Davis and Olly Robbins did not share a vision of what Brexit should be, and Mr Davis is said to have become increasingly frustrated at what he considered a movement towards a "soft Brexit" being advocated by Mr Robbins.

While May has supported a "softer" exit from the European Union, which leaves room for trade and continued financial ties with the bloc, many conservatives prefer a total break.

- To trigger a formal leadership challenge, 48 Conservative lawmakers need to write to the chairman of a committee which represents the interests of Conservative members of parliament who are not part of the government.

Interestingly, Mr Davis' resignation letter makes no mention of a pledge of loyalty or commitment to the Prime Minister.

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Even before the shock resignations last night, key Brexit cheerleader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would oppose the prime minister's "misfounded" Cabinet agreement and suggested that other Conservative eurosceptic MPs would do the same. The double resignation on Sunday has the potential to derail May's government and set in motion a chain of events that could lead to an attempt to oust her as prime minister.

Brexiteer Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted the plan was not everything he had hoped for, but he was a "realist" and the Prime Minister's lack of a Commons majority meant the "parliamentary arithmetic" was a factor in deciding what could be adopted. "If the Brexit Secretary can not support them they can not be very good proposals". It seeks to keep the United Kingdom and the European Union in a free-trade zone for goods, and commits Britain to maintaining the same rules as the bloc for goods and agricultural products.

Davis, a sharp operator and a gut-instinct politician, was a "Leave" campaigner in the referendum on Britain's European Union membership.

It is unclear whether Brussels will accept this, after repeatedly warning Britain it can not "cherry-pick" bits of its single market.

Davis and fellow Brexit backer Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both agreed to support May's proposal for a softer divorce than she had originally planned, and it seemed she had survived the storm.

Davis also served as a reservist in the Special Air Service, the British army's elite special force unit. When the Conservatives returned to power in 2010, he spent his time on the backbenches campaigning on civil liberties issues.

Mr Russell said the proposals, agreed after a marathon Cabinet meeting at Chequers, were a "step in the right direction".

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