It was announced earlier today that Boris Johnson has resigned as Foreign Secretary due to his disagreement with Theresa May's approach to Brexit. Boris was one of the many memorable Leave figureheads in the lead-up to the referendum, along with Nigel Farage. His stance has been for a hard Brexit, so his resignation is unsurprising after May implemented her plan for a 'Common Rulebook' with Brussels.

According to the Guardian, Boris is, in fact, the third minister to announce his resignation within 24-hours after May shared her plans for a 'soft Brexit'.

May's leadership is now under close scrutiny, with many questioning her stability and ability as our Prime minister.

What is happening with Brexit?

To truly understand Boris' resignation it is important to recap the Brexit plans so far. Brexit has been a very complicated process for all of us of us to understand and at times it seems like very little is happening. This is due to the negotiations with May and Brussels. The BBC explained some points about the Brexit progress. Here is a summary of what has happened so far:

  • 23 June 2016: the Uk votes to leave the EU
  • The date for Brexit to officially take place has been set for 29 March 2019
  • A provisional agreement on The three 'Divorce' issues has been made. These are what happens to the Northern Irish Border, the residency status of the Eu citizens in the UK and vice versa and finally, the amount of money owed by the UK to the EU.
  • A transitional period has been agreed for the 29 March 2019 to the 31 December 2020.

It is this transitional period and the policy for future relations with the EU which are dividing Brexiters and most importantly the Conservative Party themselves.

May's plans for a 'Soft Brexit'

The purpose of the transitional period is a period of time to allow businesses both in the UK and the EU to prepare for the implementation of Brexit laws. This essentially means that although the UK leave the EU on 29 March 2019, it does not really leave.

For Boris Johson, who has been not just a strong Brexit campaigner but also a strong 'Hard Brexit' campaigner, this is incredibly frustrating and in his eyes, pointless.

He is of the opinion when we leave the EU the laws should take place then and there. According to the Guardian, "After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell May’s Brexit plan as being akin to “polishing a turd”'.

To make matters worse for hard Brexiters, May plans to implement a 'Common Rulebook'.

This attempts to create a harmonization between the UK and the EU on the trading of goods. This would be implemented by a treaty which the UK would commit to. The government would have an oversight of the rules and can choose to opt in or out of the treaty although this would have consequences.

One of the Leave campaign's main grievances with the EU was the lack of control of laws made from foreign bodies. The idea of the 'Common Rulebook' essentially means that our trade is partly controlled by the EU, something they definitely didn't want. Although we can choose to leave the treaty at any time we will be faced with consequences. In some ways, our hands are tied and we have a lot of limitations on how we can trade.

What does Boris' resignation mean for May?

Many people believe that the resignation of Boris Johnson is part of a wider plan to cause further fractions in the Conservative Party, leading to a vote of no confidence. If this were to happen then another general election would take place, electing a new prime minister. This would work in favour of 'Hard Brexiters' as new leadership would probably mean a switch to a 'Hard Brexit' policy.

Regardless, if this is the actual plan, there is definite pressure on May, by her own party, to resign. She is also coming under fire from the media and other parties for her apparent lack of leadership in her own party. Bookies have put her odds of resigning by the end of the week at 5/1.

There is no clear successor lined up to take Boris' place.

What does the public think?

Arguably the most crucial part of Boris Johnson and David Davis' (one of the other ministers who left today) attempt to get May to resign is public opinion. How the public view May after these resignations will add important weight to how the Conservatives deal with her.

If there is a clear feeling that a 'Soft Brexit' is unwanted and a 'Hard Brexit' is preferable, there is a greater possibility of a vote of no confidence If there is a feeling of agreement with May, it's unlikely we will see a vote of no confidence soon. Instead, the party will continue to fracture until another event triggers action. Twitter is still very divided, so no clear conclusions can be drawn yet.

The next few days will be crucial for May to retain her power and control of her party. Her biggest task, is to get her party to agree on her policy.