Brexit deal in the balance

By Eliza Mackintosh and Rob Picheta

Updated 7:39 a.m. ET, November 19, 2018
30 Posts
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5:30 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Two more members of the UK government have resigned

Suella Braverman has resigned as a junior minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, the full name for the Brexit department in the UK government. Her boss, Dominic Raab, resigned earlier today.

Braverman is a leading member of the European Research Group, the hardline caucus of Conservative MPs who support a "hard" Brexit

Another ERG member, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has resigned as a ministerial aide in the Department for Education – the most junior rung of the British government.

5:18 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

As two Cabinet ministers quit, Michel Barnier tweets

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier called the draft agreement between the United Kingdom and EU a "decisive, crucial step" on Wednesday night. Fast forward several hours -- and with news breaking of two significant Cabinet resignations -- Barnier tweeted that the EU remains determined to deliver "an orderly withdrawal" from the EU.

5:02 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Second Cabinet minister resigns

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey is the latest resignation. In her letter she says Theresa May's deal does not honor the result of the Brexit referendum.

5:20 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Why these resignations are significant

From CNN's Matt Wells in London

File photo of Dominic Raab.
File photo of Dominic Raab.

The resignation of Dominic Raab as the UK's Brexit Secretary – followed about an hour later by Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey – was significant for a number of reasons.

It was unexpected. While Raab was a leading Brexiteer, he was thought to have been on board with May's plan, albeit reluctantly. His sudden resignation, allied with that of McVey and the junior Northern Ireland minister earlier in the day, fuels the sense of crisis surrounding May's leadership.

He was a senior member of the Cabinet. Some ministers are more significant than others. As Brexit Secretary, Raab would have been expected to help persuade skeptical MPs of the merits of her deal, and help prepare for the crucial EU leaders' summit on November 26. May has lost a key lieutenant.

File photo of Esther McVey.
File photo of Esther McVey.

Raab leads the way. His appears to have tipped the balance for McVey, who was reported to have become embroiled in a furious row in yesterday's Cabinet meeting. If more Cabinet ministers resign, then it becomes harder for May to hold her government together.

A confidence vote is now more likely. The moves by Raab and McVey could also embolden MPs who are considering whether to trigger a vote of no-confidence in her leadership. Under the rules of Theresa May's Conservative Party, a vote of no-confidence in the leader can be triggered if 48 MPs declare their support for one.

5:09 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Resignation brings uncertainty for business

From CNN's Europe Editor Nina dos Santos in London

The pound has plunged on the back of Dominic Raab’s surprise resignation as Brexit Secretary on Thursday morning. Last night, after the United Kingdom and European Union agreed on the text of a Brexit withdrawal agreement, British Chancellor Phillip Hammond held a conference call with business leaders to convince them the draft agreement was the way forward. But Raab’s resignation has sent the business community back into uncertainty with the threat of a no deal scenario resurfacing.

4:30 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

May to face Commons grilling as Brexit plan comes under fire

British Prime Minister Theresa May will address the House of Commons at 10:30 a.m. local (5:30 a.m. ET), parliamentary officials say. The session will take place after government resignations and as members of her own ruling Conservative Party voiced concerns about the draft agreement she announced on Wednesday evening.

5:10 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Pound falls on Dominic Raab resignation

From CNN Business International Editor Mark Thompson in London

The pound fell by 1% to just over $1.28 on news of Raab’s resignation. It was trading flat earlier in the morning. 

4:55 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Read the text of Dominic Raab's letter

File photo of Dominic Raab
File photo of Dominic Raab HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS

Raab announced his resignation on Twitter saying he couldn't support Theresa May's deal.

Read it:

Dear Prime Minister,
It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister and Brexit Secretary.
I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign. I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.
For my part, 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.
Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit. The terms of the backstop amount 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. 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.
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.
I appreciate that you disagree with my judgment on these issues. I have weighed very carefully the alternative courses of action which the government could take, on which I have previously advised. Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.
My respect for you and the fortitude you have shown in difficult times, remains undimmed.
Yours sincerely
Dominic Raab
4:05 a.m. ET, November 15, 2018

Breaking: Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary

Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary. In a statement he's said he “cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab is the second Brexit Secretary to resign this year. David Davis quit over the so-called Chequers Agreement.