UK PM a "little surprised" by Johnson resignation

Theresa May and Lord Heseltine

Australia will have as good a relationship with Jeremy Hunt - the UK's new foreign secretary - as it had with his predecessor Boris Johnson, federal minister Christopher Pyne predicts.

Aside from the loyalty which MPs naturally feel towards their leader, many are concerned that Mrs May's removal could plunge the party into chaos, with no obvious replacement lined up, potentially setting the scene for Jeremy Corbyn to seize power in a new general election. They are the first to quit over a fundamental difference on her Brexit platform, but one of them was the man in charge of implementing that policy.

May's government was rocked Monday by the resignations of Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

"On the one hand, it's true what Downing Street says", one European Union source told me.

"And we risk getting to a point in a few months time if Brexit happens, and I think it is an if rather than a when, in which one side here, the many people who regard Brexit as a disastrous error, will be pointing out the many problems that arise from it".

But leading pro-Brexit lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said he didn't think she would face a leadership challenge.

Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey, has served as Health Secretary since 2012.

Hours later UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson resigned over the political crisis.

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She looks set on facing down a rebellion in her Conservative Party, where hardline Brexit supporters are livid over her plans to negotiate "a free trade area for goods" with the EU.

During that campaign he travelled around the country in a Vote Leave bus controversially emblazoned with the claim that exiting the European Union would bring £350 million a week back to Britain to spend on the NHS.

Brussels has not yet made clear how the EU27 will respond to the Chequers deal, which the government believes represents an "evolution" of its negotiating strategy.

In a scathing resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said that, under her leadership, the United Kingdom was "heading for a semi-Brexit", with the dream of an outward-looking global Britain "dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt". Brexit-supporting lawmakers were angered by the proposals, saying they would keep Britain tethered to the bloc and unable to change its rules to strike new trade deals around the world.

This is a possibility, particularly now Mr Johnson has followed Mr Davis out of the door.

"We negotiate with the negotiators", he said.

On Monday, her office attempted to woo lawmakers from the opposition Labour Party, a move that outraged dissident Conservatives, who are prepared to vote to block her plan if it comes to the House of Commons unchanged later in the year.

Though negativity about immigration has fallen sharply in Britain in recent years, for this handful of MPs, leaving the European Union is all about controlling immigration-and not much else.

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