The Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has quit, leaving Theresa May’s administration on the brink of imploding and her plan to leave the EU in tatters.
Mr Raab resigned just hours after securing Cabinet backing for her Brexit deal in a fiery meeting that left some ministers ‘in tears’.
The Prime Minister took to the steps of Downing Street after the meeting announce that the Cabinet had approved the draft Brexit deal with the EU.
But, on Thursday morning, Mrs May’s plans began to unravel with Mr Raab becoming the first high-profile Cabinet minister to quit. Earlier Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara also resigned
Tweeting his letter of resignation, Mr Raab said Mrs May’s deal posed a ‘threat to the integrity of the UK’.
“I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. 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.”
Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. 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. pic.twitter.com/tf5CUZnnUz
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 15, 2018
No sooner was it announced than reports of tense exchanges inside Number 10 during a ‘fiery mneeting’ began to emerge.
Work and Pensions minister and Brexiteer Esther McVey was ‘in tears’ after she was ‘shouted’ at by top civil servant Mark Sedwill and chief whip Julian Smith.
Ms McVey reportedly twice demanded a vote on the deal so that it could be put on record everyone’s feelings on the deal.
However, she was rebuked and a vote did not take place.
The Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, was also said to be in tears during the meeting and she, along with Ms McVey and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, are thought to be the members of the Cabinet most likely to quit in protest at the deal.
Reports also suggested as many as a third of the 28 ministers attending the meeting in No 10 voiced doubts about the deal – prompting speculation about even more resignations in the days ahead.
And speaking on ITV’s ‘Peston’” Jacob Rees Mogg attacked the Prime Minister for raising the possibility of no Brexit at all in her Downing Street address, branding her ‘deeply undignified’.
She said: ‘Why did she say that no-deal is better than a bad deal then?
‘This type of threat, this type of if you don’t do this ill punish you, it is very un-prime ministerial, deeply undignified and not the sort of thing she should be saying.’
May prepares for grilling
The PM is braced for a furious backlash from Tory Brexiteers, Labour, the SNP and the DUP when she presents her deal on Britain’s EU withdrawal to the Commons on Thursday.
She faces a battle to get it through Parliament as pro-Leave Conservative MPs and some Remainers line up to condemn the plan.
Following the release of the 585-page agreement document, Rees-Mogg – the leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group – wrote to all Tory MPs urging them to vote against it.
Rumours continued to swirl at Westminster that the tally of Conservative MPs who have submitted letters of no confidence in Mrs May is about to reach the 48 threshold needed to trigger a vote on her position.
Mr Rees-Mogg said that he was not among those MPs who had written to the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, but suggested he could be ‘very close’ to doing so.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former chief of staff, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that his former boss had capitulated and Parliament will ‘surely’ reject the proposal.
Chief Whip Julian Smith has said he is confident the Government will get the support of Parliament for the deal.
But with the DUP – whose 10 MPs prop up Mrs May in the Commons – voicing their unhappiness at the agreement, and the prospect of a significant Tory backbench revolt it is hard to see how ministers can make the numbers add up.
Jeremy Corbyn again made clear that Labour was unlikely to come to the Government’s rescue.
He said: ‘I don’t believe that the deal that I’ve heard of so far is in the national interest. It doesn’t meet the interests of all parts of Britain, it doesn’t give us a security of our trading relationship with Europe in the future.’
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News the draft Brexit agreement is a ‘miserable failure of negotiation’ and said Labour will vote against it.
Meanwhile, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement that ‘decisive progress’ had been made, clearing the way for a special summit for leaders of the remaining 27 EU states to give their stamp of approval, probably on November 25.