May's cabinet in chaos as Brexit minister quits

Gladys Abbott
November 16, 2018

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.

Esther McVey announced she was resigning as Work and Pensions Secretary as she could not defend a deal which meant the United Kingdom "handing over control to the EU".

But MPs lined up to tell Mrs May that it could not pass, Brexit hardliners who see the deal as conceding too much to Brussels, to European Union supporters, several of whom called during Thursday's session for a second referendum.

She said, "I don't pretend this has been a comfortable process or that either we or the European Union are entirely happy with all of the arrangements that have been included". We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

It also needs approval from Britain's Parliament before the United Kingdom leaves the bloc on March 29 - and even if May survives as leader, the chances of that look slim.

Cabinet ministers were called to Downing Street to read draft Brexit documents.

Labour will press Theresa May to spell out how she is going to avoid a high-risk no-deal Brexit, arguing that the hostility from MPs since her final deal was unveiled demonstrates that she can not get her plans through the Commons.

A summit of European Union leaders is likely be held on November 25, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Members of parliament on all sides warned her there was no way the plan could win their approval, but she dismissed calls to quit, saying: "Am I going to see this through?" However, hardline Brexit supporters argue that it would be best for the the long run, as fewer commitments to Europe would make it easier for Britain to negotiate direct trade deals worldwide.

Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said May should withdraw the "half-baked" Brexit deal.

"The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration", May said outside her Downing Street office.

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The plan has also failed to find favour among Tory voters, the survey suggests, with 41% of 2017 Conservative voters opposing it, against 28% backing the Prime Minister.

"I can not support the Withdrawal Agreement that has been agreed with the European Union", Vara said as he resigned as a Northern Ireland minister.

But the DUP has rejected the deal, saying its provisions to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland would impose new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., weakening the bonds that hold the United Kingdom together.

He also said he could not accept "an indefinite backstop arrangement" for the Irish border.

"I understand fully that there are some who are unhappy with those compromises but this deal delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest", she said. "But what I would say to people in my constituency is that once we have control over our sovereignty we can begin to make changes".

According to the note, Ms Weyand said: "We should be in the best negotiation position for the future relationship". It will be accompanied by a parallel lobbying effort aimed at persuading other MPs at Westminster to vote against the deal. "I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that".

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads a group of anti-EU Conservatives, submitted on a letter of no-confidence in the prime minister saying that "it would be in the interest of the party and the country if she were to stand aside". If people like Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and Michael Gove can live with it then so can I.

The pound fell heavily against most major currencies after his resignation.

However, Caroline Flint, another former minister, said again on Thursday that she would consider voting with the government, unless there are safeguards against a no-deal Brexit: "It's hard to focus on the deal when the government is imploding. Just as I do, I'm sorry that they've chosen to leave the government and I thank them for their service", she said.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents Britain's key automotive industry and which has been at the forefront of business concerns about the consequences of Brexit, said Thursday that the deal was a "positive step".

Remain-supporting Tory MP Anna Soubry added on Twitter that Mr Raab's resignation "marks the end of PMs Withdrawal Agreement" and possibly her premiership.

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