CHANGES DECK; UPDATES WITH LETTER OF NO CONFIDENCE FROM CONSERVATIVE MP
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – Multiple ministers, including the Brexit secretary, resigned on Thursday saying they could not support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which the Cabinet approved with majority vote on Wednesday.
"Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary," Dominic Raab said on Twitter.
"I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her," he wrote.
Raab said in his resignation letter that he could not support the proposed deal because of two reasons.
“First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit,” Raab added.
Raab has become the second Brexit secretary to resign from May’s Cabinet. His predecessor David Davis resigned in July over his varied views on Brexit from those of the prime minister’s after the revelation of the Chequers — a roadmap Brexit plan by May.
“Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust,” Raab said.
– Letter of no confidence
Following the resignations and a statement by May in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Jacop Rees-Mogg has sent a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee.
Speaking to the press outside the parliament, Rees-Mogg said the government should go back to Brussels and tell them that the U.K. will leave without a deal, and trade on the terms of the World Trade Organization.
“Regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto,” he said in the letter.
“It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place,” he wrote.
He added: “Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative party and the 1922 committee this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader of the party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.”
A vote to end May’s leadership will need at least 48 letters in total before such a vote can be initiated.
– Other resignations
Another Cabinet minister Esther McVey also followed Raab and resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying she could not support the deal.
“Earlier this morning I informed the prime minister I was resigning from her Cabinet,” she said on Twitter.
Some junior ministers including Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, Brexit minister Suealla Braverman and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a ministerial aide at the education department also resigned Thursday morning.
The draft Brexit deal reached between the U.K. and EU was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
May described the draft agreement as “the best that could be negotiated”.
– Parliament statement
Making a statement in the House of Commons following the resignations, Prime Minister May defended the draft agreement.
She said the withdrawal detail shows how the U.K. will leave the EU in 134 days’ time and the Irish border issue will best be solved through the future relationship.
On the future partnership with the EU, May said that the free movement will end but “no other advanced economy has such good access to the EU for goods.”
Underlining that the U.K. will leave the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, May added that there will be a “close and flexible” partnership on defense and security with the union.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was “in chaos”, and even May’s own Brexit secretary did not support the deal reached with the EU — referring to the earlier resignation of Raab.
Signalling that the labour would not support the deal in the upcoming parliament vote, Corbyn said that after two years of negotiations “all the government has agreed is a vague, seven-page document on the future.”
– 'Deal is dead in the water'
Scottish National Party leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford said Scotland was not mentioned once in the document and “the deal is dead in the water.”
Conservative MP Mark Francois said there are 84 more Tory MPs who would not vote for the deal and mathematically the deal cannot pass the House of Common.
The agreement was “dead on arrival”, he said, urging May to accept “the political reality”.
May said when a deal is brought back it will be for MPs to consider, and it will be their duty to deliver on the vote of the British people.
Under the proposed deal, the EU accepted the idea of whole-U.K. customs union with the bloc in a major concession to please U.K.'s demands to protect its territorial integrity.
A previous EU version of backstop would keep Northern Ireland anchored in the EU single market and customs union until a solution is found on the border issue in the island of Ireland.
In return, Britain is reported to have agreed that it will not be allowed to exit the backstop unless and until the EU is convinced that there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.
The EU said an emergency Brexit summit will be held on Nov. 25 in Brussels.
The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019.