Prime Minister Boris Johnson had Brexit taken out of his hands years ago by Theresa May when she was Prime Minister and he was Foreign Secretary, potentially delaying the UK’s departure from the European Union by several months.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May dramatically resigned last June following a series of humiliating defeats in the House of Commons, which saw MPs continue to vote down her much-criticised Brexit deal. Boris Johnson, who served as Foreign Secretary for two years from July 2016-2018, took over as Prime Minister, and delivered Brexit as promised on January 31. But former political rival Jeremy Hunt has revealed the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) was set up as “a deliberate decision to take Brexit out of the hands of the Foreign Office while Boris (Johnson) was Foreign Secretary”
In an interview with the Institute for Government, he said: “It was a deliberate decision to take Brexit out of the hands of the Foreign Office while Boris was Foreign Secretary. That was what No. 10 intended.
“When I became Foreign Secretary, we got a bit more involved, but obviously structurally it was the job of the DExEU Secretary of State to do the negotiations with Brussels, but I was reasonably closely involved.”
In a separate interview with the Institute for Government, David Lidington, who served as Mrs May’s de-facto deputy, said: “I don’t think that there was sufficient recognition of, you know, how hard some of the political choices in the negotiations would be.
He also claimed “it was a mistake” to create DExEU “as a separate department.”
Theresa May’s de-facto deputy David Lidington said: “I think that, I do think the mistakes were made early. I think that if you go back to 2016, I don’t think that there was sufficient recognition of, you know, how hard some of the political choices in the negotiations would be.
“And I think it is possible – you never know, we are looking at it with hindsight, but it is possible – what I think should happen is there should have been a different approach to the negotiations at the start, because I think it would have been possible then to come to the deal earlier.
“And possibly, you know, an attempt to reach out to the other parties early on, saying: ‘This is a national decision, we have had a vote in the referendum, now we need to move forward together.