From an analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement’s text: How the Irish protocol would separate Great Britain from Northern Ireland.

It can’t have been Parliament’s intention to allow Northern Ireland to form part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain for any purpose.

  • The Irish Protocol is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement and establishes a permanent UK-EU customs union

  • It removes Northern Ireland from the UK’s customs territory and places it in the EU’s customs territory

  • Northern Ireland is in the same customs territory as Great Britain in the same way that it is currently in the same customs territory as Turkey.

  • The protocol will inevitably create many checks and controls on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, amounting to a ‘hard border’ on the Government’s definition – east-west, in this case.

  • The EU will have the power to tax and legislate for Northern Ireland in many areas as if it were an EU member state – but without any representation.

  • The ostensible justification for the protocol – because it is required by the Belfast Agreement – is not justified by the text of the Agreement, which says nothing about customs.

  • This is all in clear breach of many promises to protect the Union by the Prime Minister.

The Withdrawal Agreement and the Irish Protocol

  • Article 182 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides that the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (‘the Irish Protocol’) forms an integral part of that agreement. The Irish Protocol contains the so-called backstop which has the ostensible aim of preventing a ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. This is said to be required by the Good Friday Agreement, but there is nothing about customs or border arrangements in that agreement.

The Irish Protocol establishes a UK-EU customs union

  • Article 6(1) of the Irish Protocol provides that until otherwise agreed, ‘a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom shall be established (“the single customs territory”). Accordingly, Northern Ireland is in the same customs territory as Great Britain.’ The single customs territory is said to comprise ‘(a)the customs territory of the Union defined in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013; and (b) the customs territory of the United Kingdom.’ It should be noted that a single customs territory is the legal definition of a customs union: seearticle 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (‘GATT’) 1947, as amended.

EU customs legislation applies to Northern Ireland, not Great Britain

  • Article 6(2) of the Irish Protocol provides that ‘legislation as defined in point (2) of Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council shall apply to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland (not including the territorial waters of the United Kingdom).’
  • Regulation 2013/952/EU is the Union Customs Code (‘UCC’). The legislation defined in article 5, point 2 of the UCC is the (a) UCC, and its implementing and supplementary provisions, (b) the Common Customs Tariff, (c) legislation establishing EU relief from customs duty and (d) international agreements on customs applying to EU. It is plain therefore that the EU customs legislation applies to Northern Ireland, but not to Great Britain.

Northern Ireland is made part of the EU customs territory

  • The provision of fundamental importance in the Protocol is article 15(1), which provides insofar as material that: “notwithstanding any other provisions of this Protocol, any reference in the applicable provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement and of this Protocol, as well as in the provisions of Union law made applicable to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland by this Protocol, to the territory defined in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 shall be read as including the part of the territory of the United Kingdom to which Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 applies by virtue of Article 6(2) of this Protocol.’
  • This provision needs unpacking. The territory defined in article 4 of the UCC is the ‘customs territory of the Union.’ As note above, the part of the United Kingdom to which the UCC applies by virtue of article 6(2) of the Protocol is Northern Ireland. Eliminating the deliberately obscure drafting, article 15(1) provides, in effect, that:
  • ‘Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Protocol, any reference in the applicable provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement and of this Protocol, as well as in the provisions of Union law made applicable to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland by this Protocol, to the customs territory of the Union shall be read as including Northern Ireland.’

In short, despite the creation of a single UK-EU customs territory by article 6(1), the protocol repeats the substance of the EU’s first draft of the Withdrawal Agreement, which had provided, in article 4(2) of the draft Irish Protocol, that ‘The territory of Northern Ireland, excluding the territorial waters of the United Kingdom… shall be considered to be part of the customs territory of the Union.’

The effect of the Withdrawal Agreement, therefore, is that Northern Ireland will form part of the EU’s customs territory, and not the United Kingdom’s, although a single customs territory is also established between the UK and the EU. Northern Ireland will thus be in the same customs territory with Great Britain in the same way that it is currently part of the same customs territory as Turkey (see article 3(3) of decision 1/95 establishing a single EU-Turkey customs territory).

It is likely that this constitutes a breach of section 55(1) of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018, which entered into force in September. This provides that: ‘It shall be unlawful for Her Majesty’s Government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain.’

It cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow the Government to agree that Northern Ireland should form part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain for any purpose. Otherwise, it would be lawful for the Government to have transferred Northern Ireland into the Turkish customs territory without Parliamentary approval at any time.

This will mean a hard border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • The Irish Protocol expressly contemplates checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Article 7(2) states merely that the parties will use their best endeavours to facilitate trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Joint Committee is empowered to make non-binding recommendations to avoid ‘to the extent possible, controls at the ports and airports of Northern Ireland.’ The implication is that it may not in all circumstances be possible to avoid such checks. Indeed, article 14(2) of the Irish Protocol gives the EU the right to direct UK authorities to carry out controls to give effect to the Protocol.
  • Trade between the two constituent parts of the customs territory, i.e. the EU and Northern Ireland, on the one hand, and Great Britain, on the other, is regulated by Annex 3: see article 6(1). Articles 3 to 11 of Annex 3 set out the paperwork that will be needed (i.e. UK movement certificates) for such trade, except goods in the possession of travellers and postal packets which will be exempted.
  • Annex 5 applies only to Northern Ireland: see article 6(2). It contains the whole panoply of single market controls, including border controls, on goods. For example, it applies Council Regulation 2017/625/EU. Article 47 of that Regulation requires border controls where animals, products of animal origin, plants, and plant products are first imported into the EU. Official controls include documentary checks, identity checks and physical checks: see article 49.

The ostensible aim of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland has come at the expense of creating one between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It should be remembered the definition of a hard border in para [43] of the UK-EU Joint Report of December 2017 was the absence of ‘any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls’.

The EU acquires the power to tax and legislate for Northern Ireland, without any Northern Irish representation

Other provisions of the Protocol require Northern Ireland to abide by EU legislation and taxation: see articles 9 to 12 of the Protocol, and the Annex thereto. References to EU legislation in the Protocol are ambulatory references, so there will be a duty to keep Northern Irish laws and indirect taxes aligned to EU laws and taxes in the future: see article 15(4)-(5).

Furthermore, the EU has full power to legislate in respect of Northern Ireland, and the Court of Justice will have jurisdiction: see article 14(4)-(5). Northern Ireland is, in effect, treated as part of the EU for some purposes but without any representation. This will greatly and illegitimately enhance the powers of Ireland’s Government in Northern Ireland and undermine the Union.

Polite discomfort (or “a load of arse-kissing”) on the Prime Minister’s conference call with senior Tory activists

“No-one had a pop at her”, I’m told – but equally her answers don’t seem to have won round the assembled Association officers.

As the Chequers proposal unravelled back in July, Downing Street found itself caught short, and ended up implementing a hurried and belated charm offensive to try to stem the unhappiness among the Tory grassroots. It’s fair to say that rearguard action, which included the rare step of a conference call with the Prime Minister for Association chairmen, met with only limited success.

Evidently the Party leadership was mulling that experience as it prepared its plan to sell in its proposed Brexit deal. This time round, to their credit, they have been rather more swift to open up – the Prime Minister’s LBC phone-in this morning was followed by another conference call in which she and Brandon Lewis spoke to Association chairmen late on Friday afternoon.

Despite the widespread frustration and disillusionment with her, it remains the fact that events like these calls have some pulling power. Even though it took place during working hours, I gather in excess of 300 local Party officers dialled in, as May took 17 questions in the course of 45 minutes. I’m told there was “no bluster” or speech at the start, but a focus purely on Q&A – reflecting a better understanding of what the audience actually want from a conference call.

The overall tone seems to have been one of polite discomfort, among a naturally loyal core audience. “No-one had a pop at her,” one of those listening in told me, “…I got the impression that people want to support her, but are struggling.”

“Most appeared supportive of the PM but worried how to sell the deal. Lots of concern about the backstop and no unilateral exit. Lots [of callers] said they’d had representations from members. I’m not sure there was a single person excited over [the deal]”. Another association officer on the line was more blunt, describing the call as “a load of arse-kissing”. Both cited the fact that Downing Street staff screen questions beforehand as limiting the likelihood of any more direct criticism.

The detailed topics of concern were largely the same as those heard in public – the status of Northern Ireland, “lots of concern about the backstop and no unilateral exit”, as well as questions over “who the independent arbitrator would be” on the UK’s future, and “concern over how we can trust [the] EU [to] play fair.”

The Prime Minister’s replies do not seem to have shifted the dial with those I spoke to. They were mostly “pre-scripted answers”, one listener felt, while others were deeply sceptical of her claim that the EU believes the backstop to offer “an advantage to the UK”. Another association officer reports a heavy reliance on the argument that “we don’t intend to use this backstop”, with no answer on who the independent arbitrator would be, or reassurance on the right to vary from EU rules. Overall, one listener described her message as being “If [the draft deal] falls in parliament, no going back to Brussels. She thinks that is honestly the best deal we’ll get.” Another, asked if May had changed his mind, replied simply “No. Not at all.”

It’s certainly better to be on the front foot in trying to explain the Prime Minister’s position to local Party officers, rather than being belatedly forced to do so in a panic like back in July, or simply leaving the voluntary Party out of the discussion entirely as happened so often in the past. It would be no bad thing if doing so was to become a standard fixture in the process of announcing major decisions, just as Chancellors build briefings for business groups into their outreach programmes as standard.

However, even leaving aside the difficulties of this particular decision, and of this particular Prime Minister, the format still needs some work. Everyone participant I spoke to was acutely aware that the questions are pre-screened before they are allowed through, which not only chills debate but also instils a degree of scepticism among the audience as to the degree to which they’re hearing scrutiny or propaganda. It’s also felt to be slightly insulting that senior activists who give vast amounts of time to the Party are treated as though they need to be vetted before being allowed to speak to their own leader.

The call system itself has a few problems – on both the Chequers call and today’s some association officers were either not called at all or had their connection dropped part-way through. I’m aware of people of all opinions who have been struck by the glitch, so it seems to be genuinely arbitrary, but in an atmosphere febrile enough to require such a call some have inevitably drawn the conclusion that they were being deliberately excluded from the conversation. That might be unfair – it certainly seems to be mistaken – but it’s a perception nonetheless, and one Downing Street would do well to eliminate by fixing the problem.

Hammond, Penrose, and Kwarteng join the Government as May circles the wagons

The Prime Minister has eschewed the chance to bind waverers with patronage in favour of promoting able loyalists who won’t make trouble.

This afternoon the Government announced three junior appointments to fill the vacancies left by yesterday’s resignations.

Stephen Hammond – Minister of State, Health & Social Care

In some ways, this is a bit of a surprise. With Theresa May facing a make-or-break Commons vote on her Brexit deal, one might have expected her to use this opportunity to buy off one or two of the wavering rebels with a little patronage – as premiers are wont to do.

Hammond certainly gave the Government trouble on earlier votes, but at this point he’s a pro-deal ex-Remain voice on the backbenches. Whether or not this decision represents optimism or merely fatalism on May’s part remains to be seen.

Notwithstanding all that, however, he is a very experienced former minister who has been keen to return to Government. Combined with his antipathy to the European Research Group, it therefore seems unlikely that he’s going to cause any trouble by resigning.

John Penrose – Minister of State, Northern Ireland

Another able former minister, Penrose is a slightly odd case on things Brexit. Described by the BBC as “ardently pro-Remain“, he has nonetheless signed off letters from the European Research Group in the past.

Another loyalist, the Public Whip reports that Penrose has only once rebelled against the Government in the current Parliament. Significantly, however, that was on a piece of Northern Irish legislation: namely an amendment aiming to force Karen Bradley, his new boss, to justify how officials could continue to implement the Province’s strict abortion laws.

Not only is this another opportunity not taken to bind waverers to the Government line, therefore, but it is also another indication that the Prime Minister is prepared to further aggravate the Democratic Unionists – and perhaps change Northern Irish policy, too. Quite how this administration could continue to govern until 2022 without them is another matter.

Kwasi Kwarteng – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Exiting the European Union

Unlike Hammond and Penrose, Kwarteng is a Brexiteer and supported a Leave vote during the referendum. His elevation is nonetheless effectively an internal promotion as far as the numbers go, as he was previously serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Philip Hammond.

He now shoulders the burden of trying to help his new boss, Steve Barclay, in preparing to wind up the Brexit department and – in the seemingly likely event that the withdrawal agreement is voted down by the Commons – preparing the nation for No Deal.

Rolling list of MPs who have submitted letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister

Will they manage to reach the 48 required to trigger a leadership ballot, either this week or next?

Below is a list of MPs who have publicly declared that they have written to Graham Brady calling for a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister.

  • Steve Baker
  • Peter Bone
  • Ben Bradley
  • Andrew Bridgen
  • Maria Caulfield (5)
  • Simon Clarke
  • Philip Davies
  • Nadine Dorries
  • James Duddridge
  • Mark Francois (10)
  • Marcus Fysh
  • Zac Goldsmith
  • Chris Green
  • Adam Holloway
  • Andrea Jenkyns (15)
  • Anne Marie Morris
  • Sheryll Murray
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Laurence Robertson
  • Lee Rowley (20)
  • Henry Smith
  • Martin Vickers
  • John Whittingdale
  • David Jones

WATCH: “It delivers in ways that many said could simply not be done.” May’s Commons statement. Full text.

“If we get behind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on our negotiations to leave the European Union.

First, I want to pay tribute to my Rt Hon Friends the Members for Esher and Walton and Tatton.

Delivering Brexit involves difficult choices for all of us.

We do not agree on all of those choices but I respect their views and thank them sincerely for all that they have done.

Mr Speaker, yesterday we agreed the provisional terms of our exit from the European Union, set out in the Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

We also agreed the broad terms of our future relationship, in an Outline Political Declaration.

President Juncker has now written to the President of the European Council to recommend that “decisive progress has been made in the negotiations.”

And a special European Council will be called for Sunday 25 th November.

This puts us close to a Brexit deal.

Mr Speaker, what we agreed yesterday was not the final deal.

It is a draft treaty that means we will leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way on 29 March 2019 and which sets the framework for a future relationship that delivers in our national interest.

It takes back control of our borders, laws and money.

It protects jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

And it delivers in ways that many said could simply not be done.

We were told that we had a binary choice between the model of Norway or the model of Canada. That we could not have a bespoke deal.

But the Outline Political Declaration sets out an arrangement that is better for our country than both of these – a more ambitious free trade agreement than the EU has with any other country.

And we were told we would be treated like any other third country on security co-operation.

But the Outline Political Declaration sets out a breadth and depth of co-operation beyond anything the EU has agreed with any other country.

So let me take the House through the details.

First, on the Withdrawal Agreement, the full legal text has now been agreed in principle.

It sets out the terms on which the UK will leave the EU in 134 days’ time on 29 th March 2019.

We have secured the rights of the more than three million EU citizens living in the UK, and around one million UK nationals living in the EU.

We have agreed a time-limited implementation period that ensures businesses only have to plan for one set of changes.

We have agreed Protocols to ensure Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

And we have agreed a fair financial settlement – far lower than the figures many mentioned at the start of this process.

Mr Speaker, since the start of this process I have been committed to ensuring that our exit from the EU deals with the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

I believe this issue can best be solved through our future relationship with the EU. But the withdrawal agreement sets out an insurance policy should that new relationship not be ready in time at the end of the implementation period.

I do not pretend that this has been a comfortable process – or that either we or the EU are entirely happy with all of the arrangements that have been included within it.

Of course this is the case – this is an arrangement that we have both said we never want to have to use.

But while some people might pretend otherwise, there is no deal which delivers the Brexit the British people voted for which does not involve this insurance policy.

Not Canada +++. Not Norway for Now. Not our own White Paper.

The EU will not negotiate any future partnership without it.

As the House knows, the original proposal from the EU was not acceptable as it would have meant creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of our United Kingdom.

So last month, I set out for the House the four steps we needed to take.

This is what we have now done and it has seen the EU make a number of concessions towards our position.

First, the EU proposal for a Northern-Ireland only customs solution has been dropped and replaced by a new UK-wide temporary customs arrangement that protects the integrity of our precious Union.

Second, we have created an option for a single time-limited extension of the Implementation Period as an alternative to bringing in the backstop.

As I have said many times, I do not want to extend the Implementation Period and I do not believe we will need to do so. This is about an insurance policy.

But if it happens that at the end of 2020 our future relationship is not quite ready – the UK will be able to make a choice between the UK-wide temporary customs arrangement or a short extension of the Implementation Period.

Third, the Withdrawal Agreement commits both parties to use best endeavours to ensure this insurance policy is never used.

And in the unlikely event that it is needed, if we choose the backstop, the Withdrawal Agreement is explicit that it is temporary and that the Article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship. And there is also a mechanism by which the backstop can be terminated.

Finally, we have ensured full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.

Mr Speaker, the Brexit talks are about acting in the national interest – and that means making what I believe to be the right choices, not the easy ones.

I know there are some who have said I should simply rip-up the UK’s commitment to a backstop.

But this would have been an entirely irresponsible course of action.

It would have meant reneging on a promise made to the people of Northern Ireland during the Referendum campaign and afterwards that under no circumstances would Brexit lead to a return to the borders of the past.

And it would have made it impossible to deliver a Withdrawal Agreement.

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I have a responsibility to people in every part of our country and I intend to honour that promise.

Mr Speaker, by resolving this issue, we are now able to move on to finalising the details of an ambitious future partnership.

The Outline Political Declaration we have agreed sets out the basis for these negotiations and we will negotiate intensively ahead of the European Council to turn this into a full future framework.

The Declaration will end free movement once and for all.

Instead we will have our own new, skills-based, immigration system – based not on the country people come from, but on what they can contribute to the UK.

The Declaration agrees the creation of a free trade area for goods, with zero tariffs, no fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all goods sectors.

No other major advanced economy has such an arrangement with the EU. And at the same time, we will also be free to strike new trade deals with other partners around the world.

We have also reached common ground on a close relationship on services and investment, including financial services which go well beyond WTO commitments.

The Declaration ensures we will be leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

So we will decide how best to sustain and support our farms and our environment, and the UK will become an independent coastal state once again.

We have also reached agreement on key elements of our future security partnership to keep our people safe.

This includes swift and effective extradition arrangements as well as arrangements for effective data exchange on Passenger Name Records, DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data.

And we have agreed a close and flexible partnership on foreign, security and defence policy.

Mr Speaker, when I first became Prime Minister in 2016 there was no ready-made blueprint for Brexit.

Many people said it could simply not be done.

I have never accepted that. I have been committed day and night to delivering on the result of the referendum and ensuring the UK leaves the EU absolutely and on time.

But I also said at the very start that withdrawing from EU membership after 40 years, and establishing a wholly new relationship that will endure for decades to come, would be complex and require hard work.

I know it’s been a frustrating process – it has forced us to confront some very difficult issues.

But a good Brexit. A Brexit which is in the national interest is possible.

We have persevered and have made a decisive breakthrough.

Once a final deal is agreed, I will bring it to Parliament and I will ask MPs to consider the national interest and give it their backing.

Voting against a deal would take us all back to square one.

It would mean more uncertainty, more division, and a failure to deliver on the decision of the British people that we should leave the EU.

If we get behind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

Mr Speaker, the British people want us to get this done. And to get on with addressing the other issues they care about.

Creating more good jobs in every part of the UK and doing more to help families with the cost of living.

Helping our NHS to provide first class care and our schools to give every child a great start in life.

And focusing every ounce of our energy on building a brighter future for our country.

So Mr Speaker, 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. This deal.

A deal that ends free movement…

…takes back control of our borders, laws and money…

…delivers a free trade area for goods with zero tariffs…

…leaves the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy…

…delivers an independent foreign and defence policy, while retaining the continued security co-operation to keep our people safe…

…maintains shared commitments to high standards…

…protects jobs…

…honours the integrity of our United Kingdom…

…and delivers the Brexit the British people voted for.

I choose to deliver for the British people.

I choose to do what is in our national interest.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

Rolling list of Government resignations today

They are now coming so fast as to necessitate this list, which will be updated as the day continues.

  • Shailesh Vara (Northern Ireland Minister)
  • Dominic Raab (Brexit Secretary)
  • Esther McVey (Work & Pensions Secretary)
  • Suella Braverman (Brexit Minister)
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan (PPS, Education)
  • Ranil Jayawardena (PPS, Justice)
  • Rehman Chishti (Vice Chair, Communities)

“We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.” McVey’s resignation letter – full text

“I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign…”

Dear Prime Minister,

There is no more important task for this Government than delivering on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. This is a matter of trust. It is about the future of our country and the integrity of our democracy.

The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn’t meet the tests you set at the outset of your premiership.

Repeatedly you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders, and our laws, and develop our own independent trade policy. I have always supported you to deliver on those objectives. Even after Chequers when you knew I shared the concerns of a very significant number of colleagues, I believed that we could still work collectively to honour the will of the British people and secure the right outcome for the future of our country. This deal fails to do this.

The proposals put before Cabinet, which will soon be judged by the entire country, means handing over around £39 billion to the EU without anything in return. It will trap us in a customs union, despite you specifically promising the British people we would not be. It will bind the hands of not only this, but future Governments in pursuing genuinely free trade policies. We wouldn’t be taking back control, we would be handing over control to the EU and even to a third country for arbitration.

It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, which as a Unionist is a risk I cannot be party to.

The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the result of the referendum when it is so obvious to everyone it doesn’t.

We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.

I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign from the Government.

It has been a huge honour to serve as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, and I am immensely proud of the part I have played in the record levels of employment we have seen in all parts of the UK. Youth unemployment has halved since 2010, and we now have record number of women and BAME in work and since 2013, 972,000 more disabled people in work.

With employment over 3.3 million more than in 2010 we have helped 1,000 more people into work each and every day since we took office.

I am extremely grateful to you for appointing me to the role, and for the support you have given me, not least in the run up to the budget, ensuring Universal Credit got a much-needed injection of £4.5 billion. That has made my decision a greater wrench.

However, in politics you have to be true to the public and also true to yourself. Had I stayed in the Government and supported this deal with the EU I wouldn’t be doing that.

Yours sincerely,

Esther McVey”

“I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country.” Raab’s resignation letter – full text

“No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control… nor the ability to decide to exit”.

Dear Prime Minister,

It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister, and Brexit Secretary.

I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign. I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.

For my part, I cannot support the proposed deal for two reasons. First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit. The terms of the backstop amount to a hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations. No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangements. That arrangement is also now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership. If we accept that, it will severely prejudice the second phase of the negotiations against the UK.

Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.

I appreciate that you disagree with my judgement on these issues. I have weighed very carefully the alternative courses of action which the government could take, on which I have previously advised. Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.

My respect for you, and the fortitude you have shown in difficult times, remains undimmed.

Yours sincerely,

Dominic Raab”