DOMINIC RAAB has resigned as Brexit Secretary, saying he “cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU”.
It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May is due to present her deal on Britain’s EU withdrawal to the Commons.
In a letter to the PM, Raab wrote: “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.”
Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her. pic.twitter.com/tf5CUZnnUz
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 15, 2018
Mr Raab had been the Brexit Secretary since the resignation of his predecessor David Davis in July. It means Mrs May has lost two ministers in charge of Brexit policy in less than five months.
Mr Raab wasn’t the only minister to quit his post this morning, as Shailesh Vara also announced his departure as Northern Ireland Minister.
He said he cannot support Mrs May’s Brexit agreement, which he said “leaves the UK in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”.
Statement from @theresa_may is due at 10.30am. Government statements generally last one hour, though this could be longer.
This will be followed by the Business statement from @CommonsLeader.
No urgent questions today. pic.twitter.com/wOLrpMhIbN
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) November 15, 2018
Last night the Prime Minister had cleared the first hurdle when Cabinet ministers approved the draft terms of her agreement with Brussels on Wednesday.
And Donald Tusk announced that The European Council will hold an extraordinary summit in Brussels on November 25 to finalise the UK’s withdrawal agreement.
Speaking alongside EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference in Brussels, Mr Tusk said Brexit was a “lose-lose situation” for the UK and EU, and sent a message to the British people: “As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, for you and for us.”