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British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns – putting deal in major doubt

THE British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The announcement will come as a huge blow to the British Prime Minister ahead of an address to the House of Commons this morning.

Mr Raab said he “cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU”.

He added that the backstop “is now the starting point for talks on future ties”, and that would “severely prejudice” the second phase of negotiations.

His resignation will put even more pressure on Mrs May’s attempts to get the draft Brexit deal through the UK Parliament.

“I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign,” Mr Raab said. He added that Mrs May’s plan threatened the integrity of the United Kingdom.

“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.”

European Union leaders will meet on November 25 to endorse the divorce deal. Mrs May now faces the much more perilous struggle of getting her own parliament to approve the deal.

British journalists said anger among Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers was so high that they might call for a vote of no confidence in her leadership. There was no confirmation.

ITV reporter Robert Peston said enough demands for a no confidence vote could be lodged by lunchtime on Thursday.

The ultimate outcome for the United Kingdom remains uncertain: scenarios range from a calm divorce to rejection of Mrs May’s deal, potentially sinking her premiership and leaving the bloc with no agreement, or another referendum.

Earlier, the Brexit deal that ensures no hard Border on this island was hailed as a major victory for Ireland.

While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Brexit is “something we regret”, he insisted the best possible Withdrawal Agreement has been negotiated.

He said other EU members had taken on Irish concerns and helped protect the peace process, the common travel area and our economy.

“This is one of the better days in politics,” he said.

Mr Varadkar praised Mrs May for being “true to her word” by ensuring there will be no hard Border.

However, there will now be major concerns that Mr Raab’s resignation will be followed by more in the British Cabinet – meaning that any deal Brexit will once again be up in the air.

Mr Raab was not the first UK minister to resign over the terms of the proposed deal.

Shailesh Vara quit as Northern Ireland Minister earlier on Thursday, saying he cannot support Theresa May’s Brexit agreement.

The junior minister, who backed remain in the EU referendum, highlighted the challenge she faces in winning parliament’s backing for her draft Brexit deal – a deal which has so far been mauled by opponents.

Vara criticised her deal in his resignation letter, saying that it left the UK “in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”.

Vara said he could not support the draft 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 they do not have our best interests at heart. We can and must do better than this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Good Morning Britain the deal was a “miserable failure of negotiation” and it was a “second-rate document”.

He told the ITV programme: “It’s a chaotic ending and the root cause is the utter division on the Conservative benches.”

More to follow

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