LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May won support from many of her ministers, including a leading eurosceptic, on Tuesday after two top cabinet members quit saying her Brexit plan was too half-hearted.
May said she had chaired a “productive” meeting of her government, unswayed by the resignations on Sunday and Monday of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - the face of Brexit for many Britons - and Brexit negotiator David Davis.
U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged that his visit to Britain from Thursday came at a time of “turmoil”.Among those rallying around May was environment minister Michael Gove - a prominent campaigner to exit the European Union alongside Johnson before the 2016 referendum - who said he would not resign.
With less than nine months left until Britain is due to leave the bloc, May is sticking to her plan for a “business friendly” Brexit.
She looks set on facing down hardline Brexit supporters in her Conservative Party who are livid over her plans to negotiate a “free trade area for goods” with the EU. One described accepting EU rules as “the ultimate betrayal”.
Above a picture of her cabinet, including her new foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and Brexit minister Dominic Raab, May tweeted: “Productive Cabinet meeting this morning - looking ahead to a busy week.”
Her spokesman said the cabinet had discussed the publication of a “white paper” policy document on Britain’s future ties with the EU and stepping up preparations for any no-deal outcome to the negotiations with Brussels.
“I think it is right that the cabinet backs the prime minister and speaks with one voice - and if people don’t do that then they have to go,” Justice Secretary David Gauke told BBC radio.
May must now quickly seek EU support for her Brexit proposal. Talks have all but stalled because of her reluctance to show her cards until now for fear of angering one of the two main factions of her party.