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Esther McVey and Dominic Raab resign - May's Brexit draft deal too hard to swallow

By Mark Edwards

The Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and minister Esther McVey have both resigned from the Cabinet.

Mr Raab, in his resignation letter, said: "I cannot support the proposed deal for 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.

"Secondly, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit."

Mr Raab added that the backstop amounted to a "hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations".

"No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangement," he said.

"That arrangement is now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership. If we accept that, it will severely prejudice the second phase of negotiations against the UK."

Mr Raab said he could not reconcile the terms proposed in the deal with the promises the Conservative Party made in its manifesto at the last election.

"This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust," he added.

Cabinet minister Esther McVey, in her resignation letter to Mrs May, said: "The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn't meet the tests you set from the outset of your premiership."

She added: "It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, which as a Unionist is a risk I cannot be party to.

"The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the referendum when it is obvious to everyone it doesn't.

"We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal. I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal."

In response to Mr Raab's resignation, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: "This is now an incredibly serious situation. The Prime Minister's Brexit deal has fallen at the first hurdle.

"When Theresa May makes her statement to Parliament this morning she can't stand up and say 'nothing has changed'. She needs to urgently to rethink her approach."

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Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has resigned

Mr Raab's resignation came after Northern Ireland Office minister Shailesh Vara quit on Thursday morning, saying Mrs May's agreement, "leaves the UK in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation".

The resignations came as European Council president Donald Tusk announced an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on November 25, at which the withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on future relations will be finalised and formalised.

Westminster is braced for further resignations, amid widespread expectations that the Prime Minister may face a challenge to her position from Conservative MPs submitting letters of no confidence in her leadership.

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