The Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns in protest over May’s deal

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has resigned in protest at the draft Withdrawal Agreement. WPA Pool/Getty
  • The Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has resigned.
  • Raab says he cannot “in good conscience” support the prime minister’s deal agreed by her cabinet on Wednesday.
  • His departure puts Theresa May’s future in doubt with Conservative MPs threatening to oust her within days.
  • The prime minister is set to face MPs for several hours of questions on Thursday morning.

LONDON – Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has resigned in a dramatic blow to Theresa May’s authority after saying he cannot “in good conscience” support the prime minister’s plan for leaving the EU.

In his letter to the prime minister, Raab – who was closely involved in drafting the agreement – said that he “cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election,” adding that it was a “matter of public trust.”

He said that plans to keep Northern Ireland attached to EU regulations after Brexit and prevent a hard border posed a “very real threat” to the integrity of the United Kingdom and amounted to an attempt to keep Britain tied to the EU indefinitely.

The prime minister was braced on Thursday morning for more resignations risking the potential break-up of her Cabinet and the end of her premiership.

She is sset to face the UK parliament at 10.30 GMT for a gruelling three hour session designed to allow MPs to scrutinise her deal.

Raab’s resignation followed a gruelling five-hour Cabinet meeting yesterday at which the prime minister sought to persuade sceptical ministers to support her deal and sell it to backbench MPs. While she claimed yesterday that she had won the support of Cabinet, at least 10 senior ministers were known to retain deep reservations over her draft exit plan.

There are growing suggestions that Conservative backbenchers will imminently move to force a no-confidence vote against her, and those MPs will be emboldened by the resignation of such a senior Brexit-supporting minister.

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, responding to the resignation of the Brexit Secretary, said the government was “falling apart before our eyes.

“This is the twentieth Minister to resign from Theresa May’s Government in her two-year premiership,” he said.

“Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her Cabinet – let alone Parliament and the people of our country.”

Raab’s resignation was greeted with indignation by the EU. A senior EU source told BI that he was “putting career before country,” by standing down.

READ: Dominic Raab’s resignation letter in full

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 the regulatory regime proposed forNorthern Ireland proposes 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 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 judgement 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.