Theresa May under pressure after Gove rejects Brexit Secretary job

Marco Green
November 16, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May won the backing of her senior ministers for a draft European Union divorce deal on Wednesday, freeing her to tackle the much more perilous struggle of getting parliament to approve the agreement.

"We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart", he said.

Appearing before the House of Commons earlier Wednesday, May confronted the anger of both those who want a cleaner break with Brussels and those who think Brexit is a disaster.

May's divided party exposes serious cracks in her leadership, as she attempts to steer the United Kingdom through its biggest shift in policy in more than 40 years.

With her party in revolt, her colleagues departing - some determined to usher her out of office - we can't, and don't know yet, if Brexit can happen as planned, perhaps, if at all. 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.

"There will be hard days ahead", Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street when announcing she had secured the backing of her Cabinet for a contentious Brexit divorce agreement after an impassioned and at times angry five-hour meeting.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leader of the party's pro-Brexit wing, threatened to trigger a leadership challenge.

Under Conservative rules, a confidence vote in the leader is triggered if 15 percent of Conservative lawmakers - now 48 - write a letter to Brady, head of the party's so-called 1922 Committee of backbenchers.

"I can not in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU", Dominic Raab said on Thursday morning indicating that there is an ongoing dispute within the UK Cabinet about the Brexit deal.

Raab, who took charge as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union after his predecessor David Davis stepped down in protest over May's Brexit negotiations in July, said the proposed arrangement to avoid a post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland is a "very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom".

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey followed Raab out the door.

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But in a sign of just how hard the vote in the British parliament might be, Shailesh Vara, who backed European Union membership in the 2016 referendum, quit on Thursday as a junior minister in May's government.

Amid the political turmoil, the pound plunged on currency markets.

"Ultimately this allows us to take back control", he said.

Raab's departure came after the EU's Tusk called a November 25 summit to ratify the agreement.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC's Radio 4 that lawmakers should back the draft divorce agreement because the alternatives were "ugly". "A second referendum would be divisive but not be decisive".

Even if May hangs on, the deal looks unlikely to get approved by Parliament, considering the opposition from both Tory and Labour MPs.

"We are calling for a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to enable us to discuss the details of the withdrawal agreement and to input into the political declaration before this is finalised". May heads a minority government with support from Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party, which too declared its intention to vote against the agreement.

In the Commons on Thursday, May faced criticism from the opposition Labour Party - where left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn lambasted the "half-baked" deal.

He also said he could not accept "an indefinite backstop arrangement" for the Irish border. But a good Brexit, a Brexit which is in the national interest is possible. But officials in Brussels admitted the plan could go awry depending on events in London.

In a swipe at her Brexit-backing critics, she said the European Union would never accept any agreement which did not involve a "backstop" arrangement to ensure the Irish border remains open.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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