Dominic Raab: Restart Brexit talks and say UK won’t be ‘bullied’

Former Brexit secretary says without changes to the deal, Britain should walk away with a ‘clean break.’

Britain should reopen Brexit negotiations with the EU and show that it will not be “blackmailed and bullied,” former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said today in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Raab delivered a devastating critique of Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating strategy — one that, until he quit the post on Thursday, he had spent four months implementing.

The prime minister could face a leadership challenge as early as next week amid widespread dissatisfaction in her party about the deal she presented to Cabinet on Wednesday. Raab is a prime contender to stand, alongside fellow Brexiteer and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

“If we cannot close this deal on reasonable terms we need to be very honest with the country that we will not be bribed and blackmailed or bullied and we will walk away,” said Raab. “I think there is one thing that is missing and that is political will and resolve. I am not sure that message has ever landed.”

“I don’t think we should look like we’re afraid of our own shadow. We need to be going out there and grasping opportunities,” he said.

He said the final straw was hearing news that the EU intended the backstop customs arrangement, which was negotiated to prevent the need for a border in Northern Ireland, to form the basis of the U.K.’s eventual economic relationship with the bloc. POLITICO was first to report that Tuesday night.

Asked if someone on the U.K. side had prevented him from knowing earlier he said, “Yep.” When asked who, he said: “I don’t know. I’ve asked how this change was made and who licensed it and there’s not been a clear answer.”

Raab says London should go back to the negotiating table and demand the U.K. is given a mechanism for withdrawing from the backstop unilaterally. Under the current deal both sides must agree, giving Brussels an effective veto.

If the other side refuse to renegotiate, Raab says Britain should walk away with a “clean break.” At that point he advocates publishing plans to cut taxes and stimulate the economy.

“This isn’t Dunkirk. The short-term risks of disruption can be managed,” he said, referring to the rushed evacuation of British servicemen from wartime France in 1940. “They can’t be eliminated. We need to be honest about that. But far better that than to allow a pretty controlling and manipulative relationship with the EU to become abusive.”

Raab came under fire this month for saying he “hadn’t quite understood” the U.K. reliance on the Dover-Calais trade route.

Raab suggested to the Sunday Times that without the backstop terms, the deal would be acceptable to Brexiteers. “The frustrating thing is we got close to a deal which would have been acceptable,” he says. “It’s clear that we cannot now exit the backstop without the EU exercising a veto and that could be years and years down the line. It’s the worst of all worlds.”

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Brussels won’t allow Brexit deal do-over

EU negotiator Michel Barnier tells ambassadors the EU has a ‘duty’ to stick to its red lines, despite political turmoil in London.

Brussels is on edge, but it has no intention of going back to the Brexit drawing board.

Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told a meeting of EU27 ambassadors Friday morning that whatever political “difficulties” Theresa May is experiencing in London, the bloc has a “duty” to stand firm on its key Brexit red lines, according to EU diplomats present.

For her part, May is standing firm on the deal in the face of a gale of criticism and is intent on pushing the deal to a vote in the House of Commons. But if political opponents in her own party succeed in forcing her to seek a better deal, there is no sign that any of the EU27 red lines will change.

We cannot “compromise” or engage in “cherry-picking” or “bargaining,” Barnier told ambassadors, referring to requests to reopen the draft deal that was agreed by the British Cabinet on Wednesday. He added that he expects “difficult negotiations” ahead.

Barnier also expressed a desire to help the British government in its efforts to ratify the text in a vote of MPs. And he said that there could be room for movement on the EU side in specific areas, such as enhanced cooperation on phytosanitary regulations and so-called technical barriers to trade. It is a moment not for triumphalism, he said, but for “encouragement.”

“All eyes are on London. We see there are some turbulences” — EU diplomat

The chief negotiator’s presentation at the more than two-hour meeting reflects a dilemma for Brussels. While EU countries want to help May get the deal through parliament, there is a reluctance at such a late stage to radically unpick the agreement — despite threats to May’s leadership and a series of ministerial resignations over the deal.

Diplomats say that some tweaks might still be possible if they could make the difference between the deal succeeding or crashing, but the kind of radical overhaul proposed by Brexiteers such as former Brexit Secretary David Davis is simply not on the table. There is “no question” of that, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

“If we renegotiate something it could be on very small details,” said a senior EU diplomat “[but] it will not be on the main issues.”

“Europeans are not scared, but very cautious, and everybody hopes the deal will be approved,” he added, saying that the first major challenge will be the tight timescale to consider the details of the deal before a hastily arranged EU leaders’ summit on November 25.

There is “no question” of radical overhaul of the deal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

“Some of us will need to consult our MPs on the text, and make the necessary democratic deliberations in our countries,” the diplomat added.

“All eyes are on London,” said another EU diplomat. “We see there are some turbulences.” Asked about the mood in Brussels, the diplomat said: “It’s a feeling of relief that at least there’s a text on the table.” A third diplomat added: “Everyone is committed to getting the ball over the line.”

In any case, as Barnier said Wednesday, EU capitals feel that they have already given significant ground in the final stages of the talks. And not everyone is happy with all aspects of the final deal.

“We had to accept compromises,” said the second diplomat. “There are some points that also make some EU members uncomfortable.”

The diplomat cited the EU’s acceptance of an all-U.K. customs backstop — as an insurance measure to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland — and the decision to kick negotiations about fisheries access into the transition period that will immediately follow Brexit day in March next year. “It’s not clear, and it will affect millions of jobs,” said the senior EU diplomat. “There’s nothing precise.”

Barnier was briefing ambassadors on the state of ongoing talks about the political declaration — the document that will accompany the 585-page Withdrawal Agreement. Only a cursory seven-page outline of that was published on Wednesday evening and the chief negotiator indicated that several issues are still in play.

“Any regulatory gap is a serious issue” — Senior diplomat

On security matters including participation in EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust he said, according to two EU diplomats, that the U.K. does still “not accept” the full ramifications of not being an EU member country. But Barnier added that both sides share the aim of close cooperation. And on mechanisms to ensure there is a level playing field between British and EU businesses after Brexit, EU ambassadors expressed reservations in the discussion following Barnier’s briefing.

“Any regulatory gap is a serious issue,” said the senior diplomat, adding that the text “isn’t clear” on environmental and social measures. “The consequences are important because it could enhance any regulatory gap on major issues.” One country’s representative is also “worried” that the text offers too much to the U.K. on services.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire | Sébastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the desire not to contribute to political instability in London, not all EU politicians are adopting a softly softly approach. France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Friday that Brexit is leading Britain into “a nightmare” and called on “lying and irresponsible” Brexiteers to abandon their project, or face economic meltdown.

“The British politicians, who have argued for Brexit, now have a choice between reneging on their absurd political promise or an economic disaster of which the British people will be the first victim,” he said.

His more cautious colleagues may be hoping that the people he is referring to are too preoccupied to notice.

David Herszenhorn contributed reporting.

Amber Rudd returns to UK Cabinet as work and pensions secretary

Former home secretary replaces Esther McVey, who quit over Brexit deal.

LONDON — Amber Rudd was appointed as the U.K. government’s work and pensions secretary on Friday, the BBC reported.

Downing Street wouldn’t confirm Rudd’s appointment.

She returns to Theresa May’s Cabinet after being forced to resign as home secretary in April. Rudd admitted she had “inadvertently misled” MPs over targets for removing illegal immigrants.

Rudd, a prominent Remain campaigner in the Brexit referendum of 2016, is a close ally of the prime minister.

She replaces Esther McVey, who resigned Thursday in protest at May’s Brexit deal.

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Court document suggests US preparing to indict WikiLeaks’ Assange

It is unclear what charges the WikiLeaks would face if he were extradited.

Julian Assange’s name appeared on an unrelated U.S. federal court document, hinting that a secret indictment was being prepared against the WikiLeaks founder.

A document from a previously sealed case, filed by a federal prosecutor in Virginia in August, named Assange and mentioned the importance of not making public any move to arrest and extradite him, Reuters and Associated Press reported.

Assange’s WikiLeaks website has leaked thousands of secret U.S. documents, and the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department was “increasingly optimistic” about the chances of prosecuting Assange in a U.S. court.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years after being granted political asylum by the South American country.

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PM May refuses to say DUP will back her Brexit deal in parliament

Theresa May held her nerve in a half-hour radio phone-in with the British public.

Prime Minister Theresa May refused to confirm whether her Northern Ireland backers, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), will vote for the draft Brexit deal she is due to bring to parliament next month.

The DUP’s 10 MPs prop up the minority Conservative government in the House of Commons, but the party’s leader Arlene Foster has dismissed May’s Brexit draft as a “capitulation.”

“Well, we will see how every member of parliament is going to vote,” May said on LBC radio, when asked if the DUP would back her. “When this vote comes back every individual member of parliament will decide how they vote.”

During a 30-minute phone-in show, May also dodged the question of whether Tory MPs would be given a free vote on the deal, rather than being whipped into backing it, and she declined to comment on whether Cabinet Brexiter Michael Gove had been offered, and turned down, the vacant Brexit secretary role.

“He’s been doing a great job,” May said.

The prime minister — who faces a seemingly monumental challenge to get her deal through parliament, with Labour, the DUP, Liberal Democrats and numbers of both Remainers and Brexiters in her own party likely to reject it — remained resolute on the phone-in, where some callers accused her of failure and said she should stand down.

The final caller compared May to former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in having “appeased that foreign [EU] power,” but May reaffirmed that her deal was the best option for the country and there were areas in the negotiations where the EU had “given in to us” after the U.K. “held out.”

When quizzed about the controversial Irish backstop arrangement, however, May conceded: “I have some of those concerns myself.”

Ellen, a British woman living in Spain, called in to ask what would happen to U.K. citizens in the EU if May’s deal failed. May said she “would expect” EU countries to protect the rights of British citizens abroad just as she said EU citizens’ rights would be protected in the U.K.

Julie, who said she is disabled, called to ask for assurances that she would still be able to get the medicine she needs if the U.K. crashes out of the EU with no deal. May replied that the government was “looking at the relationship we have with the European Medicines Agency,” and went on to say that this is a “personal” issue for her, too, as she relies on insulin produced in Denmark to manage her type-1 diabetes.

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Libyan fund: Five EU countries released Gaddafi’s frozen money

Despite sanctions, Libyan Investment Authority says UK, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Belgium all released cash.

Libya’s sovereign wealth fund says that five EU countries paid out money from frozen accounts in Europe that once belonged to Muammar Gaddafi, despite international sanctions.

Questions about mystery payments from the Libyan dictator’s supposedly frozen billions in Europe have already become a hot political issue in Belgium, because significant sums flowed out of accounts in Brussels.

But the Libyan Investment Authority’s announcement is the first time an official state body has said that countries other than Belgium may also have wrongly implemented the U.N.’s 2011 sanctions regime against Libya, and raises more questions about how much of Libya’s wealth has been transferred to unknown recipients since 2011.

Belgium defends payments of money from LIA’s frozen accounts by saying that interest accumulated on frozen funds is not covered by sanctions. A U.N.-backed panel of experts disagrees, however, and concluded in September that such payments were illegal and could be contributing to instability in the country.

The LIA said in an emailed statement to POLITICO that Belgium’s government was not alone in taking advantage of a loophole by paying out the interest earned on the frozen money.

“In many jurisdictions (the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg for example) the interest and dividends on holdings frozen under the U.N. sanctions are not frozen,” the LIA said through its London-based PR agency Maitland.

The statement also sought to deflect mounting questions about why Belgium decided to unfreeze funds from accounts managed by Euroclear, a financial institution headquartered in Brussels.

The LIA provided an email from the Belgian finance ministry to Euroclear dated October 4, 2012 in which Marc Monbaliu, a top civil servant, said that “the legal department of the European External Action Service of the European Union considers that there is no longer any legal basis to freeze interest on these funds.” Contacted by the Belgian broadcaster RTBF last week, Monbaliu said “at the time that the request arrived, I had no reason to refuse it.”

In February, POLITICO reported that Belgium was channeling tens of millions of euros of frozen Libyan cash in stock dividends, bond income and interest payments to unknown beneficiaries with bank accounts in Luxembourg and Bahrain.

Since then, senior officials in Belgium’s government including Foreign Minister Didier Reynders have been asked to explain why the payments were made and where they ended up. Neither Belgium nor the LIA have, however, been able to name the final recipients.

The Belgian finance ministry has justified the interest payments from the Belgian accounts by saying they were in accordance with a 2011 interpretation of the sanctions’ rules by RELEX, an expert group at the Council of the EU composed of diplomats from member countries.

Members of the U.N. panel of experts on Libya did not respond to questions about whether they were aware of the actions taken by the U.K., Germany, Italy and Luxembourg. José Luis Díaz, a U.N. spokesperson, said the experts’ findings from September had been sent to the U.N. Security Council, which can take action if appropriate.

The German representation to the EU declined to say whether Berlin had released funds to the LIA, though it noted that “the assets of LIA are frozen insofar as they were owned, held or controlled by this entity on 16 September 2011.”

A U.K. Treasury spokesperson also declined to say whether the government had released frozen funds generated by Gaddafi’s wealth.

“We are working with the U.N. panel of experts to better understand their recommendations and will reflect this in our ongoing discussion with the EU about how we implement Libyan sanctions,” the spokesperson said.

Officials from Luxembourg and Italy did not respond to questions. However, an EU official briefed on Luxembourg’s financial decisions who spoke on the condition of anonymity said no funds had been authorized by the treasury to leave the country.

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May vows to ‘see this through’ as Brexit deal divides her party

Abandoning the deal would mean ‘deep and grave uncertainty’ for the country, the prime minister said.

LONDON — Theresa May vowed  to”see this through” after a chaotic day in Westminster during which two Cabinet ministers resigned and a handful of prominent Brexiteers said they would bring down her premiership over the draft Brexit deal she negotiated with the EU.

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street Thursday afternoon, May said that her party and the country should “unite behind” the draft agreement, warning that to step back now would lead to “deep and grave uncertainty” for the country.

Her Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigned on Thursday morning, citing dissatisfaction with the deal, which was approved by Cabinet in a five-hour meeting on Wednesday.

Brexiteer Conservative MPs and May’s Northern Irish backers the Democratic Unionist Party expressed fury at the draft text’s provisions for a ‘backstop’ legal guarantee to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, by keeping the U.K. in a customs union with the EU and requiring Northern Ireland to continue to follow some EU rules.

Senior Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker formally called for a vote of no confidence, submitting letters to the chair of the Conservative party’s 1922 committee. Fifteen percent of the parliamentary party must call for a vote of no confidence to trigger one — 48 MPs.

Asked whether she would fight a vote of confidence, were one triggered, and whether she would carry on even if she won the contest by just one vote, May said: “Am I going to see this through: yes”

Comparing her approach to her favorite cricket player Geoffrey Boycott, she said she liked his style of play because he “stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”

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EU Confidential episode 73, presented by the Future Europe Podcast: Rose Gottemoeller — Brexit deal — Merkel’s vision

In our just-released episode, Rose Gottemoeller, NATO’s deputy secretary-general, is our main guest. She’s the highest-ranking female official in the history of the military alliance — or, as Gottemoeller herself puts it, “the first …

In our just-released episode, Rose Gottemoeller, NATO’s deputy secretary-general, is our main guest. She’s the highest-ranking female official in the history of the military alliance — or, as Gottemoeller herself puts it, “the first deputy secretary-general of NATO who happens to be a woman.”

Gottemoeller talks about Russia’s turn from the West, and how attitudes to women have changed in the national security world since she began her career in the 1970s — and what needs to happen to change them further.

Our Brussels Brains Trust of Lina Aburous and Alva Finn debate the big stories of the week — Theresa May’s fight for political survival after sealing a Brexit deal, and Angela Merkel’s speech to the European Parliament outlining her vision for the EU.

Theresa May’s statement to MPs on the draft Brexit deal

The prime minister said that delivering Brexit involved ‘difficult choices.’

The full prime minister’s statement to the House of Commons on the draft deal negotiated between her government and the EU27. 

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 25th 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 29th 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 standard; 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.

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Esther McVey latest UK Cabinet minister to resign over Brexit deal

The work and pensions secretary said she could not defend a deal that handed control to the EU.

LONDON — Theresa May’s work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey become the second Cabinet minister to resign Thursday over the prime minister’s draft Brexit deal, saying it would be ‘handing over control’ to the EU.

McVey quit just an hour after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s resignation 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.”

Ministers reached a “collective” decision to approve a draft Brexit agreement with Brussels after five-hour meeting on Wednesday. McVey is reported to have spoken out strongly against the plan.

“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.”

McVey “I could not look my constituents in the eye” and defend the draft deal.

In her letter to the prime minister, 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 in a negotiation,” she said, “However I have reached a point where I feel that these concessions do not respect the will of the people.”

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