Mayday! 4 United Kingdom ministers quit, PM fights to save Brexit deal
Mayday! 4 United Kingdom ministers quit, PM fights to save Brexit deal
Theresa May's Cabinet backed her Brexit deal amid reports of an imminent leadership challenge
16 November, 2018, 04:47
Like any divorce settlement, the Brexit deal was bound to be a grudging, imperfect compromise. Now that a draft compromise is on the table, most of those sides in Britain are up in arms.
The deal "was dead on arrival", added Tory MP Mark Francois, a hard Brexit backer.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images British Prime Minister Theresa May was barely clinging to power Thursday after two top officials resigned in the wake of her proposed Brexit deal.
"I can not reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto", he said in his resignation letter.
Britain's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab announced his resignation on Thursday.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman have also quit, as have Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a ministerial aide at the education department, and Ranil Jayawardena, a ministerial aide at the justice department.
Her view of the agreement was trenchantly opposed by Raab, other Conservative MPs and even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said May's government was "falling apart", and called the agreement "a huge and damaging failure".
Speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister said: "I firmly believe that the draft withdrawal agreement was the best that could be negotiated and it was for the Cabinet to decide whether to move on in the talks".
Beyond walking away, it was the only tactic she had left.
May said the agreement was the result of "thousands of hours of hard negotiation by United Kingdom officials" and was reached after a key obstacle - the border between the Republic of Ireland, which will remain a part of the European Union, and Northern Ireland, that will remain a part of the United Kingdom - was overcome. Many had expected her to join the wave of resignations that followed the publication of May's draft withdrawal deal.
Surviving the grilling in Parliament today is just one part of a still fraught road to getting her way.
Screenshot of Nick Timothy's headline for Daily Telegraph, November 14, 2018. "But the proposal presented to cabinet is a capitulation ... not only to Brussels, but to the fears of the British negotiators themselves".
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But a good Brexit, a Brexit which is in the national interest is possible. He resigned from the Cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.
Pacifying some in her own party will be a challenge and on Thursday Shailesh Vara quit as Northern Ireland Minister, saying he could not support May's agreement, which he said "leaves the United Kingdom in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation".
Raab's resignation "is a major blow for May. with her position now growing increasingly tenuous", Cheetham warned.
She acknowledged unhappiness among some with compromises made to secure a withdrawal deal but said it "delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest" and vowed to "see this through".
May has faced constant criticism from Conservative MPs over her approach.
An anti-Brexit demonstrator holds a placard opposite the Houses of Parliament in London on Nov 13. May has been adamant there won't another referendum on leaving the European Union.
May as leader. Under Conservative Party rules, 48 MPs can trigger a vote within the party's caucus on whether she should remain leader.
Backbench Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the hard-Brexit supporting European Research Group, submitted a letter of no-confidence in Mrs May.
She later made her case again at a press conference where she urged her party to rally around the deal.
With opposition among both remainers and Brexiteers, the math suggests otherwise. Verhofstadt predicted the EU Parliament could approve the deal at the start of next year, well in time of the March 29, 2019 exit.
The debate in the House of Commons will be bitter and it is unlikely to end the decades of soul searching about Britain's relationship with Europe.
As the great unravelling continues, this is a union far more disunited over Brexit than the one it seeks to leave.
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