Sir Alan Duncan resignation letter bemoans 'the dark cloud of Brexit'

PUBLISHED: 11:36 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 22 July 2019

Sir Alan Duncan has quit his ministerial position, bemoaning

Sir Alan Duncan has quit his ministerial position, bemoaning "the dark cloud of Brexit". Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

An outspoken critic of Boris Johnson has resigned as government minister ahead of the results of the Tory leadership race.

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Foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan said in his resignation letter that it is "tragic" that Britain should be working under the "dark cloud of Brexit" when it could be a dominant force in Europe.

This is the first in a raft of expected resignations in protest at a Johnson government, with chancellor Philip Hammond and justice secretary David Gauke also confirming they would quit.

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Duncan has long been a fierce critic of Johnson, who is widely regarded as the likely winner in the Conservative leadership race.

The minister has called Johnson a "circus act" in June and making last year he promised to end the former foreign secretary's political career over his comparison of Theresa May's Brexit deal to a "suicide vest".

Johnson has repeatedly indicated his willingness to take the UK out of the EU event without a withdrawal deal by the end of October, in defiance of warnings from industry, financial services, agriculture, and beyond.

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Johnson's most recent column for the Telegraph compared solving the problem of the Irish border with putting a man on the moon, calling for more optimism and a "sense of mission".

Duncan's resignation letter said he was standing down early "in order to be free to express my views in advance of [Theresa May] relinquishing office".

"The UK does so much good in the world," he continued. "It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit.

His letter also criticised the handling of the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national who has been imprisoned by the Iranian regime. Her plight is widely considered to have been worsened after Johnson, as foreign secretary, mistakenly misinformed a Commons committee about her status at the time of her arrest.

Duncan wrote: "I remain deeply upset that some fruitful discussions I had initiated about the possible release of [Nazanin-Zaghari-] Ratcliffe were brought to such an abrupt halt."

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