News

Lord Chancellor David Gauke prepares to quit cabinet over Boris Johnson’s no deal Brexit promise

By on
31

Former City lawyer will reportedly hand in resignation on Wednesday

Lord Chancellor David Gauke has confirmed he will resign from the cabinet on Wednesday because he cannot serve under Boris Johnson if he wins the race to become prime minister.

The Justice Secretary, who took the top government legal post in January last year, said he could not sit on the frontbench while Johnson pursued a no deal Brexit. Johnson, who has pledged to pull Britain out of the bloc “do or die” come 31 October (the UK’s rescheduled EU departure date), is expected to be confirmed as the new Tory leader tomorrow.

Gauke, a prominent no deal critic who has voiced his concerns that a departure as such would be a national “humiliation”, told The Sunday Times he will stand down before May’s successor takes over. “Given that I’ve been in the cabinet since Theresa May came to power, I think the appropriate thing is for me to resign to her,” he said.

He added: “If the test of loyalty to stay in the cabinet is a commitment to support no deal on October 31 — which, to be fair to him, Boris has consistently said — then that’s not something I’m prepared to sign up to.”

The legal profession paid tribute to Gauke once news of his departure broke. Philip Marshall QC, joint head of chambers at family law set 1KBW, said: “If true, this is a great shame. David Gauke has been an excellent Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. Sadly that now counts for nothing. It’s all about Brexit. His principled opposition to no deal is to be applauded. Heaven only knows who his successor will be.”

Meanwhile legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg bid farewell to Gauke, “friend of the judiciary”, in a recent article anticipating his departure.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Gauke, who began his career as a trainee solicitor with Reed Smith before joining Macfarlanes and then making the move into politics, has been a well-liked Justice Secretary (not least for his use of amusing GIFs and self-deprecating humour!). He is perhaps most well-known for introducing the far-reaching ‘no fault’ divorce bill into parliament which has just passed its second reading in the House of Commons.

Gauke took over from non-lawyer David Lidington whose six-month stint in the post (the shortest serving Lord Chancellor since the late 1980s) was even less time than his much-disliked predecessor Elizabeth Truss. Truss spent 11 months in the top job and was, of course, heavily criticised for her failure to defend judges against scathing tabloid headlines such as the notorious Daily Mail ‘ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE’ one following the Article 50 High Court ruling in 2016.

The Lord Chancellor role has, historically, been a well-respected one filled exclusively by lawyers. In recent years we have seen numerous chancellorships in quick succession, leaving one Twitter user to quip: “One day, everyone will be Lord Chancellor for 15 minutes”. It remains to be seen who Johnson (if he wins the leadership contest) will appoint as Justice Secretary, with former Linklaters lawyer Dominic Raab being tipped for the post.

Gauke — the MP for South West Hertfordshire since 2005 — voted Remain in the EU referendum. His resignation, along with several other key ministers keen to avoid a no deal scenario, has been dubbed the ‘Gaukeward squad’. At 47, Gauke has signalled his intention to stay in politics and serve again once Brexit is settled.

For a weekly round-up of news, plus jobs and latest event info

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

31 Comments

LSE LLB

It’s normal practice for all cabinet ministers to be sacked and replaced each time we have a new prime minister. These resignations have nothing to do with Johnson’s Brexit policy but simply these ministers don’t want “fired” on their record.

Anonymous

Clear misunderstanding of the situation at hand. Back to revising for you.

LSE LLB

Who are you and who put you in charge of me?

Anonymous

Lol, spoken like a true LSE brat

LSE LLB

Sorry for getting an A* education. Arsehole.

Anonymous

I was reading your article on Sunday about assisting suicide please do your best in bringing into the news once again. I’m a 74year old in sound mind but trapped in my body I have a rare disease ( Inclusion Body Myositis ) and doing research into Digitalis. I can’t walk have hoist over hospital bed can’t turn over in bed or sit up myself I have swallowing problems and choke on my food l depend on my husband with washing/
dressing I say every day this is not living please do your best bringing this into the news.

Anonymous

Oh shut up, you old buddy. 74 years of squawking is more then enough

Anonymous

That is frankly outrageous. You are beneath contempt.

Anonymous

I suggest you ask the homeless bum you pay £2 an hour to change your diapers to perform an assisted suicide on you

Anonymous

You’ve really crossed the line sir.

Anonymous

If I’ve crossed the line, fight me.
I’ll meet you by Eastbourne pier at 11 pm this Saturday. I’ll loudly announce my views on assisted suicide. If you wanna challenge me in person, be my guest

Anonymous

So what’s the update on your suicide? Any progress, or is this all just (dribbling) talk?

Anonymous

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAB!

Random passer-by

Boris Johnson will get a roasting in Parliament. If Theresa May caught hell from 30 Brexit ‘Spartans’, Boris will get slammed by the 60 Remainer Rebels in open revolt in his party. All this tough talk won’t change the arithmetic, which is what every intelligent and reasoned MP, pundit and journalist has been saying. BJ could be the shortest tenure as PM for a long time.

Anonymous

To be fair everybody considered Reagan a joke for a while after he became president. And Thatcher started really badly and super unpopular. Anything can happen (though the person is clearly not of that calibre).

Random passer-by

US system is different, but I don’t think Reagan had a hostile Congress. Thatcher had a big majority in Parliament. The situation facing Boris Johnson is very different.

Anonymous

Reagan had a Democratic Congress. Democrats dominated it for decades before Newt Gingrich gave Republicans a majority for the first time in decades.

Random passer-by

Quick Wikipedia check suggests that for at least the first term of his Presidency and the beginning of his second term, the Senate was Republican, even though the House was Democrat. I wouldn’t describe that as a hostile Congress. Also US system is different as I said.

Anonymous

No one going to point out that leaving without a deal if necessary was:

1. A manifesto promise when he stood in the 2017 election, and
2. The express policy of TMPM’s government in which he was happy to sit and take the pay cheques.

It is a striking feature of this minority of fanatics that honesty is not something they feel is a necessary part of life …

anon123456789

Nobody who actually read the manifesto would say this.

The 2017 manifesto explicitly promised a deal, and promised that it would be put to a vote in Parliament.

Anonymous

If the HoC can’t agree on withdrawal terms and the EU won’t give an extension – or Boris won’t ask for one – we leave on no deal don’t we?

Anonymous

Yes

Random passer-by

The EU will offer Boris an extension to put the pressure on him. Then he will either have to accept or decline. If he cuts it too close, the remainers in his party will bring down the government. Then we will have a general election. October will be the most interesting period in British political history.

Anonymous

Sadly, Boris would cut a deal with the Brexit Party and its orc army and deliver an election victory and a disastrous hard Brexit that is only supported by a minority of voters.

Old git

Current projections, baring in mind our unfair political system, puts Labour as the biggest party. Jeremy Corbyn is an absolute nightmare who I don’t support, but that is how it is looking. The Brexit party, who I don’t support either, would be cheated out of a lot of seats. Labour would still be way short of a majority even if they do a deal with the SNP, which would be at a high cost. The Liberals will do well, but wouldn’t want to enter any formal coalition, after what happened last time, and a condition for that if they did would be to remain or a second referendum. So Parliament would be even more split than now. The only way to get Brexit done is through a deal, otherwise Parliament will block it (even though I voted remain I wouldn’t support that). No Deal is a threat that cannot be delivered without serious constitutional shenanigans, which would be unprecedented. Boris needs to get real and stop talking macho.

Anonymous

Or we could just have a referendum. Now so many of the old racists have died, I don’t see why the country is bound by their idiocy.

Anonymous

Let’s sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

May had the ERG poking at her, and assuming a Bojo win; he’ll have the Remainers/anti no deal crowd at his.

Interesting times.

Anonymous

‘His resignation, along with several other key ministers keen to avoid a no deal scenario…’

Since the EU have stated ad nauseam that they won’t renegotiate the ‘withdrawal agreement’ and parliament is (notionally) committed to honouring the referendum decision and leaving, the goal of these people is manifestly to foil any attempt to leave.

No deal just happens to be the only democratically acceptable possibility left.

Anonymous

And it isn’t even ‘No deal’

Because the European Parliament has already passed the necessary sub agreements. All our parliament has to do is reciprocate.

Anonymous

Indeed.

But if you don’t start with ‘no deal’ you sound even more mental when you get round to talking about ‘cliff edges’ and ‘crashing out’.

Join the conversation

Related Stories