LONDON • Just over 12 hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft divorce agreement, Brexit Minister Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.
Their departures yesterday, and the resignations of two junior ministers as well as reports that others were considering quitting, shake Mrs May's divided government and her Brexit strategy, raising the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
Mr Raab is the second Brexit secretary to quit over Mrs May's plans to leave the EU, the biggest shift in British policy in more than 40 years. "I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election," he said.
In Parliament, Mrs May warned lawmakers they faced a stark decision, saying: "The choice is clear. We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated."
A leadership challenge to Mrs May could be completed in weeks, eurosceptic lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said yesterday, although the BBC reported that Conservative lawmakers have not yet submitted enough letters to trigger a confidence vote. Mrs May's spokesman said she would fight any vote of confidence and she intended to be prime minister when Britain leaves the bloc in March next year.
The pound and the stock market plunged yesterday, with sterling down 1.7 per cent against the US dollar.