Prime Minister Theresa May was rocked by the resignation of a pro-Brexit Conservative MP over “irreconcilable policy differences” as she attempted to reassure European leaders that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU remained on track.
Stephen Phillips announced he was quitting shortly after the Prime Minister called European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and German chancellor Angela Merkel to stress her Brexit timetable remained unchanged - despite a High Court ruling that threatened to throw her plans into turmoil.
The judges’ decision that Mrs May must get parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally launch Brexit, which she has promised to do by April.
Mr Phillips, who backed Leave in the June 23 referendum, has previously warned against the “tyranny” of denying MPs a vote on the Government’s stance in forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
As he announced his resignation, Downing Street was briefing details on Mrs May’s talks with Mr Juncker and Mrs Merkel, and her reaction to the High Court ruling that Parliament must decide on when Britain triggers the exit process.
Thursday’s court decision, which is likely to be challeneged by the Government at the Supreme Court, brough a range of reactions from Gazette readers.
Phil Bryden took to our Facebook account to say: “I have a gut feeling she knows Article 50 won’t be triggered and she’s protecting her own back by insisting she wants to.”
Mark Pinckney wrote: “ I don’t think May has never intended to implement Article 50.
“She is a pro EU politician. The establishment simply won’t allow the EU super state project to be derailed by a mere ‘peasants revolt’. Brexit is over, as us the pretence that we live in a democracy.
Megan Scott called for a more measured approach.
She said: “They’re not going to overturn Brexit. They’re debating deals and terms. Brexit will still go ahead. People should calm down.