World News

May in charge after Brexit resignations

By AAP Newswire

British Prime Minister Theresa May has moved to reassert her authority after two top cabinet members quit and criticised her Brexit plans, winning support from many of her ministers including a leading eurosceptic.

May said she chaired a "productive" meeting of her government, unswayed by the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit negotiator David Davis that rocked the government on Monday.

Among those rallying around the prime minister was environment minister Michael Gove - a prominent Brexit campaigner - who said he would not be resigning.

With less than nine months until Britain is due to leave the bloc, May is sticking to her plan for a "business friendly" Brexit.

She looks set on facing down a rebellion in her Conservative Party, where hardline Brexit supporters are livid over her plans to negotiate "a free trade area for goods" with the EU.

One described accepting EU rules as "the ultimate betrayal".

New foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and Brexit minister Dominic Raab attended the meeting.

Her spokesman said they discussed the publication of a white paper policy document on Britain's future ties with the EU.

Other ministers described the meeting as "very good".

"I think it is right that the cabinet backs the prime minister and speaks with one voice and if people don't do that then they have to go," Justice Secretary David Gauke told BBC radio.

"If people don't like this proposal what is their alternative? The challenge is all very well for people to say I wouldn't do this. But remember, what are the options in front of us?"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in London later on Tuesday for a meeting with May and other leaders.

It comes after a tumultuous 48 hours in which Davis quit first and Johnson followed.

"Brexit should be about opportunity and hope," Johnson said in a scathing resignation letter. "That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt."