UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have stepped down following disagreement with Prime Minister Theresa May over the terms of her proposed deal to take Britain out of the European Union (EU).
“Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU,” he wrote in a tweet on Thursday morning.
He also posted a copy of his resignation letter to May, where he explained in detail why he thought May’s Brexit proposal was going to harm London’s interests.
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
Raab said he was resigning because the deal’s approach to resolving the border issues with Northern Ireland “presents a very real threat to the integrity of” Britain.
Britain is slated to complete the divorce in March 2019 although it seems the two sides have a lot of disagreements to sort out before the deadline, including how they should administer their only land border after Brexit.
Raab also took issue with what he said was the EU’s “veto” over the UK’s ability to leave the bloc.
Britain has resisted EU’s backstop plan to include Northern Ireland in its customs union for the two-year post-Brexit transition period and beyond that until a permanent solution is agreed for trade.
London has proposed the EU could include the entire UK in the customs union but insists any arrangement for the border should be time-limited.
“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,” he said. “This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.”
Work and Pensions minister quits
Just an hour later, McVey also followed suit by announcing her resignation in a similar fashion to Raab.
Earlier this morning I informed the Prime Minister I was resigning from her Cabinet pic.twitter.com/ZeBkL5n2xH— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) November 15, 2018
"The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honor the result of the referendum," she wrote, referring to the June 2016 EU referendum where more than half of Brits voted in favor of Brexit. "Indeed it doesn't meet the tests you set from the outset of your premiership."
Junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman, and parliamentary private secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also stepped down.
May went to Parliament shortly after the resignations and addressed concerns over the future of Brexit.
She defended the Irish backstop plan and said the border issue would best be solved through the future relationship.
The PM rejected allegations that the EU had made no concessions during the talks, saying the deal was just a draft and she would ask Parliament's vote once a final deal is agreed.
"We can choose to leave with no deal, or have no Brexit at all," she said to loud cheers from lawmakers.
Corbyn slams proposed terms
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also took the podium during May's Parliament speech, blasting her deal for failing the main opposition party's tests.
The government is “in chaos”, he said, warning May that "no deal" was not an option. He added that Parliament should not accept a false choice between no deal and May's current deal.
The Labour leader also criticized the draft deal for offering no clarity about a future immigration strategy.
The resignations came hours after May announced Wednesday that she had won her cabinet’s support for her proposed terms.
The British premier stated that the cabinet’s decision was “not taken lightly,” and was made after a “long, detailed and impassioned debate,” further describing the agreement as “the best that could be negotiated.”
May and her team were hopeful they would finalize a Brexit deal by the end of this month but the recent developments mean that negotiations could continue well into December.