The European Union reacted to the surprise announcement that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis, and Britain’s flamboyant foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had abruptly resigned from the government of an increasingly embattled Theresa May, with a decidedly understated tone with the bloc’s spokesperson Margaritis Schinas saying, “It matters a lot for the U.K. side” but, “not for us”.
“We will continue to work with Prime Minister May and the UK’s government negotiators in order to reach a deal,” Schinas added after a phone conversation between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and May.
The departure of Davis and Johnson is not expected to impact the ongoing negotiations between London and Brussels over a final deal about the EU’s relationship with the post-Brexit UK. Davis was already a rare sight in Brussels having only visited the EU capital twice since the first of the year.
According to an EU official, his last trip was a quick breakfast with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in June. The meeting came at a time when Davis’ position on the negotiation team was widely known to have been severely curtailed and increased speculation that he might be replaced.
“Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain can only regret that the idea of Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But…who knows?”,” said EU Council President Donald Tusk in Tweet while taking part in an EU-Ukraine press summit in Brussels.
Juncker echoed Tusk’s lack of surprise at the separate announcements by Davis and Johnson, saying their decisions confirmed a certain unity previously not found in May’s bitterly divided cabinet.
“This clearly proves that at Chequers there was clearly a unity of views in the British Cabinet,” said Juncker in reference to the British prime minister’s country estate where May recently wrapped up a contentious meeting of her cabinet over a Brexit deal.