‘I’m going to see this through’: UK PM May vows to fight for Brexit deal
LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to fight for her draft divorce deal with the European Union on Thursday after the resignation of her Brexit secretary and other ministers put her strategy and her job in peril.
Just over 12 hours after May announced that her cabinet had agreed to the terms of the deal, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey resigned.
Eurosceptics in May’s Conservative Party said they had submitted letters calling for a vote of no confidence in her leadership.
May called a news conference at her Downing Street residence to underline her determination to stay the course.
Asked if she would contest any challenge to her position, she replied: “Am I going to see this through? Yes.”
However, hostility from government and opposition lawmakers raised the risk that the deal would be rejected in parliament, and that Britain could leave the EU on March 29 without a safety net.
That prospect pushed the pound GBP=D3 down as much as 2 percent to $1.2731, although it recovered slightly after May’s statement.
The main stock index in Ireland, which is highly dependent on trade with Britain, plunged 3.8 percent.
The German carmaker BMW, which produces its Mini model in Britain, said that, with the political situation so uncertain, it would continue to prepare for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
“BEST DEAL FOR BRITAIN”
Two junior ministers, two ministerial aides and the Conservatives’ vice chairman joined Raab and McVey in quitting.
May said she understood their unhappiness, but added: “I believe with every fiber of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people …
“I am going to do my job of getting the best deal for Britain.”
By seeking to preserve the closest possible ties with the EU, May has upset her party’s many advocates of a clean break, and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.
Meanwhile, proponents of closer relations with the EU in her own party and the Labour opposition say the deal squanders the advantages of membership for little gain.
Both sides say it effectively cedes power to the EU without securing the promised benefits of greater autonomy.
“It is … mathematically impossible to get this deal through the House of Commons. The stark reality is that it was dead on arrival,” said Conservative Brexit-supporting lawmaker Mark Francois.
The deal will need the backing of about 320 of parliament’s 650 MPs to pass.
The ultimate outcome remains uncertain. Scenarios include May’s deal ultimately winning approval; May losing her job; Britain leaving the bloc with no agreement; or even another referendum.