The three ministers tasked with delivering a Brexit got together to “clear the air” on Wednesday after weeks of rows and tension.
Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, and David Davis, who were chosen by prime minister Theresa May to head the ministries which will coordinate Britain’s departure from the EU, gathered in the Cabinet Office to put frosty relations behind them and start afresh, according to the Telegraph.
Johnson and Fox became involved in an extraordinary row earlier this month when the latter sent Johnson a letter suggesting the Foreign Office should be broken up and the task of economic diplomacy transferred to Fox’s Department for International Trade.
In practice, this sort of restructuring would have meant a key function of post-Brexit trade policy being taken away from Johnson’s department. Foreign Secretary Johnson firmly rejected the request.
The Telegraph reported that May was deeply “unimpressed” with Fox’s conduct, and disappointed that her key Brexit ministers were “wasting time” becoming involved in inter-department disputes rather than focusing on negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Johnson, Fox, and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis currently share an official residence in Kent where they are required to work closely together. The decision to establish a house share arrangement was interesting, given that most past Foreign Secretaries have enjoyed sole use of the property.
Alistair Burt, a former foreign office minister, told the Telegraph last week that the three men are not renowned for being “team players” among fellow MPs. An unnamed civil servant added that Fox is “nutty” and “obsessive” — language which suggests he is difficult to work with.
All three ministers campaigned for Britain to leave the EU prior to the June referendum. However, Fox is a hardline Eurosceptic whose views on what a Brexit should entail do not always reflect those of Johnson and May.
In July, Fox suggested the UK should leave the EU’s customs union, an idea which was quickly slapped down by a spokesperson for May on the grounds that government wants “the closest possible economic ties” with the EU once Britain officially leaves.
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