In the late hours of Wednesday the 14th of November, a seemingly battered, yet gleeful Theresa May emerged from 10 Downing Street after what she titled “5 hours of heated debate”. She looked tired and flabbergasted, however, the news she had to share was positive. For the first time in 2 years, despite the bitter in-fighting and resignations, the Cabinet had finally backed her Brexit withdrawal plans.
She said she was optimistic and that ‘her head and heart’ were behind the deal as she proclaimed that cabinet unity would see the deal through.
Despite the earlier proclamation of unity, the morning after was not kind to Mrs May. Before 10:30am the next day an all too different story had emerged. Before her speech to Parliament was over, we had already seen at resignations from senior and junior ministers alike.
Down Goes Dominic
In a devastating blow, Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab quit shortly before the prime minister was due to give her statement to MPs in parliament, saying he could not support the withdrawal agreement struck with the European Union and approved by Cabinet on Wednesday.
Raab, who is the second occupant of the office to resign this year, after David Davis’ departure in July, said he “cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”
In his resignation letter to the prime minister, Raab said he was concerned the regulatory regime for Northern Ireland proposed under the “backstop” guarantee (more on this later) for avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland represented “a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.”
He added that he could not support an “indefinite” backstop arrangement. Raab had been known to favor a unilateral mechanism for the U.K. to leave the backstop — a provision which was not included in the draft withdrawal agreement published on Wednesday.
McVey was next to go, quitting just an hour after Raab and was swiftly followed by Suella Braverman, a junior minister at the Department for Exiting the EU. Braverman, who is a former head of the European Research Group of backbench Brexiteer MPs, tweeted she looked forward to “working to support Brexit from the backbenches.”
In her letter to the prime minister, McVey, a longstanding Brexit supporter, accused May of putting a deal to Cabinet that “does not honor the result of the [2016 EU] referendum.”
“The proposals put before Cabinet, which will soon be judged by the entire country, means [sic] handing over around £39 billion to the EU without anything in return,” she wrote. “It will trap us in a customs union, despite you specifically promising the British people we would not be.”
In her resignation letter, Suella Braverman said that the negotiations had been an “uncomfortable journey.”
“Throughout this process, I have compromised. I have put pragmatism ahead of idealism and understand that concessions are necessary
Shailesh Vara, a junior minister responsible for Northern Ireland, also resigned. Vara said in his resignation letter that the draft withdrawal agreement doesn’t deliver on the promises made to voters, and “leaves the U.K. in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign state.”
She May’be Going
It did not take long to emerge that, as well as fighting to push this withdrawal agreement through parliament, a possibility that the parliamentary arithmetic does not allow,
Leading backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg submitted a letter of no confidence in her to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tories’ backbench 1922 Committee.
Only 48 Tory MPs have to write letters to Sir Graham for a vote to be triggered.
Mr Rees-Mogg told reporters that the negotiations had “given way on all the key points” adding: “The deal risks Brexit because it is not a proper Brexit.”He denied being involved in a coup against the PM, saying he was “working through the procedures of the Conservative Party” which was “entirely constitutional”.
The embattled Prime Minister was briefing MPs in the House of Commons on the draft deal on Thursday morning amid
How Would No Confidence Work?
If the Prime Minister loses a confidence vote, she is obliged to resign and would be barred from standing in the leadership election that follows.
What Would Happen Next?
If this is the case, what is known as a two-week ‘cooling off’ period will
If the Tories cannot choose a new leader and form a new Government with the support of a majority of MPs within 14 calendar days, an early General Election is triggered
A new government could also include a cross-party allegiance and could dramatically change the government as we understand it now. However, if an alternative government cannot be formed with a majority support, the prime minister would be forced to set a date for another general election – the second while
House Of Cards Deal
The draft withdrawal agreement is all about how the UK leaves the European Union. It’s not about any permanent future relationship.
It’s a long read – 585 pages long and is available for all to read
Most of the details in there are of the financial settlement (often dubbed the divorce bill) that the two sides agreed some months ago: over time, it means the UK will pay at least £39bn to the EU to cover all its financial obligations.
Some key takeaways.
The legal basis for a transition (or implementation) period, beginning after Brexit is due to happen on 29 March 2019. It would be 21 months during which the UK would continue to follow all European Union rules (in order to give governments and businesses more time to prepare for
The transition period is also designed to allow time for the UK and the EU to reach a trade deal. The draft agreement says both sides will use their “best
The document doesn’t say how long the transition could be extended for (in fact they’ve left the date blank), only that the Joint Committee may take a decision “extending the transition period up to [31 December 20XX].” UK officials hope that the date will be clarified by the time of the proposed EU summit on 25 November.
If there was no
Both sides agreed back in December 2017 that there should be a guarantee to avoid a hard border under all circumstances. That guarantee came to be known as the
So what exactly does this draft agreement say about the border, the backstop and the legal guarantees that underpin it? If a backstop is needed, it will – as expected – take the form of a temporary customs union encompassing not just Northern Ireland but the whole of the UK
Northern Ireland, though, will be in a deeper customs relationship with the EU than Great Britain, and even more closely tied to the rules of the EU single market.