Yesterday, Theresa May revealed her draft Brexit plan to the Cabinet. This, inevitably, received a dramatic response, which included resignations and serious questions raised over her authority. We have been following the updates and here is what we know so far…
Dominic Raab has resigned as Brexit Secretary, after only being in the position since July. This is expected to come as a significant blow to the Prime Minister as Raab was considered to be a prominent 'Conservative Brexiter' (Guardian). Although he generally remained loyal to May, he claimed he could not 'in good conscious' support a Brexit decision that tied the UK too closely to the EU (Guardian). There have been reports that Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has been offered the position, although at this point it is understood he will only accept the offer if the deal is renegotiated. It seems the Prime Minister offered him this position to prevent him from quitting the government all together.
Another Minister to leave his position was Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State for Northern Ireland. May's inability to provide a clear time frame as to when the UK 'will become a sovereign nation' prompted his withdrawal. In his letter, he concluded that the 'people of the UK deserve better' (Independent). At this moment a possible replacement for Vara has not been discussed.
The final member of Government to quit (as it stands) is the Work and Pensions minister, Esther McVey. She gave similar reasons for her resignation to Raab and Vara, stating that the deal put forward does not 'honour the result of the referendum' (@EstherMcVey1). Her exit from the Cabinet has left many people wondering what will happen with the Universal Credit benefit that she has spent much of the past year defending. Nicola Sturgeon commented on her exit, asking if the minister was also going to take 'the travesty' of Universal Credit with her.
Dealing with Universal Credit backlash is likely to be the last thing on Theresa May's mind as her own politicians are calling for her to quit. Jacob Rees- Mogg (Conservative MP for North Somerset) has hinted he will send a letter of 'no confidence' to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee. A confidence vote will be triggered if 48 letters are received and the Conservative party will be able to 'unseat' her. Rees-Mogg has also suggested that a leadership contest would be arranged in weeks rather than months (Guardian).
Yesterday afternoon two more Conservative MPs, Henry Smith and Sheryll Murray, submitted letters to Brady asking for a confidence vote over May’s leadership. It has also been confirmed that a further two Conservative MPs, Suella Braverman and Rehman Chishti, resigned. This took the tally to three letters of no confidence and five MP resignations in the 24 hours following the announcement of the deal. Two parliamentary private secretaries also left their positions.
This morning it has been confirmed that at least 20 MP's have publically submitted letters of no confidence to Brady, It has also been speculated that many more have submitted letters anonymously, only causing further unrest about Theresa May's authority.
Changes within the government are happening quickly and more are expected over the next few hours as rumours continue to circulate that more MPs will resign. We will keep you up to date with any more major changes as they happen.