Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost has submitted his resignation last week over disillusionment with the direction British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was leading the country after Brexit.
Frost’s resignation raises question of Britain’s future tone with EU over post Brexit discussions revolving around Northern Ireland.
Frost had been Johnson’s core architect of his tumultuous Brexit strategy.
The development comes at a time when the country is seeing an increase in the spread of the Omicron variant and adds to a sense of turmoil in Johnson’s Conservative government.
Frost said he was confident that Brexit was secure, but said he had concerns about the government’s direction.
“You know my concerns about the current direction of travel,” said Frost in a letter to Johnson in a letter. “I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change.”
According to a report from The Mail, his resignation was triggered by Johnson adopting tougher COVID restrictions along by a broader discontent with a rise in taxation and the cost of environmental policies.
“We also need to learn to live with COVID,” Frost said. “I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere.”
In a statement Johnson said he was sorry to receive Frost’s resignation.
Frost’s departure marked the exit of the British government’s most senior Brexit negotiator and comes on top of warnings from some of the Conservative Party’s lawmakers that Johnson must improve his leadership or face a challenge.
Johnson, who won a landslide election victory in December 2019, is facing the biggest crisis of his leadership following a series of missteps and scandals which his opponents are using to say that he is unfit to be prime minister.
Johnson faced a volley of criticism following the emergence of a video showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned.
Downing Street had denied a party took place.
Britain’s top civil servant, Simon Case, has stepped down from leading the investigation into alleged parties after it was disclosed that an event had been held in his own office.
The loss of a parliamentary seat in an election defeat in a Conservative stronghold earlier this week essentially places a question mark on Brexit’s future while piling on more pressure on Johnson.
Johnson had repeatedly hailed Frost, a former diplomat, as “the greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709”; he was a committed Brexit supporter who negotiated Britain’s Brexit trade agreement.
Having Frost, a true “Brexit believer” in the heart of British government reassured Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party that Johnson would remain tough on the European Union.
Before his resignation Frost was leading an attempt by the British government to renegotiate parts of Brexit concerning Northern Ireland.
Beyond Brexit though, Frost was unhappy.
In a speech last month, Frost expressed his clear discontent with the course of post-Brexit British policy.
“We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the European Union from Britain with Brexit, only to import that European model after all this time,” said Frost in a November 22 speech at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Trade.
He also disagreed with “those who think we can treat the private sector as just a convenient way of keeping the public sector running.”
“It isn’t just a source of taxes,” said Frost. “We can’t carry on as we were before, and if after Brexit all we do is import the European social model we will not succeed.”
The Labour Party has asked for clarity from Johnson on what would happen in talks with the EU over the Northern Irish Protocol, which is part and parcel of the Brexit.
“Boris Johnson needs to get a grip, tell us his plan for the next few weeks and bring certainty for the people of Northern Ireland by unblocking the stalemate over the Protocol,” said Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow minister of state at the Cabinet Office.