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Theresa May faces ministerial revolt over draft Brexit deal

Theresa May has been hit with her first resignation over the proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Shailesh Vara, a Northern Ireland minister in the British government, quit first thing Thursday morning London time saying he could not support the withdrawal agreement.

In his resignation statement, published on his Twitter account, the minister said the deal fails to leave the UK as a “sovereign, independent country”.

The agreement “leaves the UK in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”, he wrote.

May secured Cabinet support for her Brexit divorce proposal, taking a significant step towards preventing the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

After a high-stakes five-hour Cabinet debate, the Prime Minister emerged from 10 Downing Street to reveal Cabinet had endorsed the draft plan.

The 500-page draft Brexit withdrawal agreement was agreed after hours of arguments which Mrs May described as a “long, detailed and impassioned debate.’’

A failure to secure a deal could have triggered a leadership challenge against Mrs May, or led her to resign.

media_cameraBritain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London after holding a cabinet meeting where ministers were expected to either back the draft Brexit deal or quit. Picture: AFP

‘MIDDLE-GROUND’ DEAL

While no-one seems particularly thrilled with the draft deal, Mrs May appears to have steered a middle path through the hard Brexiteers and the staunch Remainers by warning it was this deal or no deal.

The sticking points related to the Northern Ireland border, and how a hard border could be avoided with the Republic of Ireland.

DOCUMENT: The Withdrawal Agreement

DOCUMENT: A Withdrawal Agreement explainer

Cabinet members could not agree on how to manage the establishment of a “temporary customs agreement’’ which would start at the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020 in the event of no permanent deal being reached.

To ensure Northern Ireland was treated no differently to the rest of the UK, a so-called “all-UK backstop’’ was being planned, which would remain in place until a final agreement was reached.

media_cameraAn anti-Brexit protester is blocked from approaching a pro-Brexit group on Whitehall in London. Picture: Getty

Originally published as Minister quits over Brexit deal

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