As many as four British government ministers resigned on Thursday hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May was due to deliver a speech on Brexit in Parliament. Earlier in the day, European Council President Donald Tusk said the bloc will meet on November 25 to seal the Brexit agreement with Britain.
May had faced mounting criticism from her Conservative Party as well as the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which has said it will not back a deal that will treat the British province differently from the rest of the UK.
The Labour Party is set to announce later whether or not it will support the draft bill, while its leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he did not believe the agreement was in national interest.
“This deal, which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our Union; or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all,” May said on Wednesday.
A junior Northern Ireland minister who backed EU membership in the referendum, resigned from the Cabinet, Reuters reported. “I cannot support the Withdrawal Agreement that has been agreed with the European Union,” said junior minister Shailesh Vara.
“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,” he said. “We can and must do better than this.”
UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday was the next to quit. “I have resigned as Brexit Secretary,” Raab said in a letter published on Twitter. “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal.”
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey resigned as well. McVey told May in her resignation letter that the Brexit deal “does not honour the result of the referendum” and “fails to secure the right outcome for the future of our country”.
Junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman became the most recent Cabinet member to quit following the announcement.
May, speaking in the House of Commons later in the day, said that once a final deal is made, she would come to Parliament and seek its approval, The Guardian reported. The choice was clear, she told MPs. “We can choose to leave with no deal, or have no Brexit at all,” she said, to cheering from the benches. “Or we can choose this deal.”
“If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement,” Tusk had said earlier in the day. “It will take place on Sunday, November 25th at 9 am.”
The agreement is being analysed by 27 other European Union states, Tusk said, adding that the ambassadors of the countries will meet by the end of the week to share their assessment of it. “They will also discuss the mandate for the Commission to finalise the Joint Political Declaration about the future relations between the EU and the UK,” he said.
Last month, an estimated 7,00,000 people opposed to Brexit protested in London, seeking a second referendum on the final deal.