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Theresa May's Cabinet: Who's gone, who's backing her - and what's likely to happen now

There have been five resignations so far today – including two members of her Cabinet.

The Cabinet's first meeting in January 2018.
The Cabinet's first meeting in January 2018.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE RESIGNATIONS FROM the British government are coming hard and fast this morning after the announcement last night that the Cabinet had approved a draft Brexit deal.

The deal would avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. If both sides fail to decide the next steps by 2020, a backstop will kick in securing regulatory alignment between the North and the rest of the European Union. 

Last night Prime Minister Theresa May said her Cabinet had made a “collective” decision to approve the draft. But already this morning, five MPs have resigned including two members of the Cabinet. 

Who has resigned today?

Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was the first Cabinet member to quit this morning. He said he could not reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promise the government had made to the country.

Brexit Now former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab at Downing Street. Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA

“You deserve a Brexit secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction,” he wrote in his resignation letter to May.

Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions followed about an hour later. She said the deal put before the Cabinet “does not honour the result of the referendum”.

There have also been resignations by other MPs including junior ministers and parliamentary private secretaries (MPs who act as a minister’s contact with other MPs):

  • Shailesh Vara, Northern Ireland Minister.
  • Suella Braverman, Junior Brexit Minister.
  • Rehmen Chishti, Vice Chairperson of the Conservative Party. 
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan, parliamentary private secretary in the Department of Education.

And of course we should not forget those who have previously resigned from May’s government:

Who is left in May’s Cabinet?

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence.

David Gauke, Secretary of State for Justice.

Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education.

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Internal Trade.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport.

James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland.

Alan Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales.

Karen Bradle, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Brandon Lewis, Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Baroness Evans, of Bowes Park, Leader of the House of Lords.

David Lidington, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Who in the Cabinet was against the deal?

It is clear this morning that Raab and McVey were not on board last night. 

But they were not the only ones. UK media is reporting that up to 11 cabinet ministers spoke out against the deal at last night’s meeting, including Liam Fox, Jeremy Hunt, Gavin Williamson, Penny Mordaunt, Sajid Javid, and Chris Grayling. 

Who is backing May?

Philip Hammond and Greg Clark yesterday told business leaders that the withdrawal agreement was essential to avoiding the chaos of a no-deal Brexit, according to Sky News.

Sajid Javid did not oppose the agreement in the Cabinet meeting, but reportedly offered some “constructive criticism”.

Unexpectedly, Brexit supporter Michael Gove spoke in favour of the draft deal.

Britain Brexit Michael Gove was in good form leaving the Cabinet meeting last night. Source: Matt Dunham/PA

The Guardian reports that supportive voices came from the Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, and the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds.

What’s next?

The Prime Minister’s comments in parliament this morning are not going down well. 

She told MPs to laughter and heckling that this is not the final deal but that it will ensure Britain leave the EU in a “smooth and orderly way”. 

may May has been heckled all morning by MPs in the parliament as they discuss the draft agreement.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told her people around the country will be worried today at what they are seeing:

“The government should withdraw this half-baked deal that doesn’t have the support of parliament, your Cabinet and the British people.”

With the negative reaction – from her own Cabinet and the parliament – this morning, further resignations today or over the coming days would not be a surprise.  

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