Fistful of resignations as May defends her Brexit plan, job

All smiles from Arlene Foster Sir Jeffrey Donaldson Theresa May and Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson after the DUP agreed to support the minority Government

The party now has 315 MPs, so 48 would need to submit such letters.

While she claimed yesterday that she had won the support of Cabinet, at least 10 senior ministers were known to retain deep reservations over her draft exit plan.

The dead was "the best that could be negotiated", she said.

But members of parliament on all sides told her that there was no way it could pass their approval, with arch-Brexiteers and European Union loyalists alike insisting it was already sunk.

And various Tory backbenchers, including leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, said they had submitted letters of no confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the Conservatives' backbench 1922 Committee.

Besides Raab, those who resigned included cabinet minister Esther McVey andIndian-originministers of state Shailesh Vara and Suella Braverman (nee Fernandes), two parliamentary private secretaries and two other aides.

Downing Street appears to be hoping that the looming uncertainty from a leadership contest or a general election this far down the Brexit road might persuade just enough MPs on all sides to just accept the deal and move on. She said in a letter that it is "no good trying to pretend to (voters) that this deal honors the result of the referendum when it is obvious to everyone that it doesn't". "There must now be a people's vote to break the deadlock and get the country out of this mess".

During her Downing Street statement, she also pushed that the deal gave back "full control of our money", she said, "so we decide ourselves how to spend it on priorities like our NHS".

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Failure would delay the final settlement until a formal Brussels summit in mid-December, leaving little time for May to get the deal and associated legislation through parliament.

Mrs May paid tribute to the pair as she faced MPs in the House of Commons to deliver a statement on her plans.

Mr Raab's became Brexit Secretary in July following the resignation of David Davis over Mrs May's Chequers proposals.

"Above all, I can not reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election", Raab said.

Asked about Mr Gove on Thursday, she said he was doing "an excellent job at Defra" adding: "I haven't appointed a new Dexeu [Department for Exiting the European Union] secretary yet and I will be making appointments to the government in due course".

He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try and ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party. May's deal, seeing it as a preferable option to leaving without an agreement, he said.

Ms May had secured her cabinet's collective approval for the agreement during a five-hour meeting on Wednesday, an important step that helped allay growing fears in the business community of a disorderly divorce.

But she accepted that delivering Brexit involved hard choices all around.

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She said: "Delivering Brexit involves hard choices for all of us..."

At 0900 GMT, the pound stood at around $1.2870, compared to $1.2992 at 2200 GMT on Wednesday. The euro meanwhile jumped to 88.26 pence, a gain of 1.3 percent.

At this very late stage in a negotiation process that's lasted more than two years, May had hoped an ultimatum would save her and the draft she has painstakingly reached with the European Union: it's either this deal, or chaos.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned that despite the draft, the prospect of Britain crashing out without a deal was "still on the table".

"First, you ensured the limitation of the damage caused by Brexit and second you secured the vital interest and principles of the 27 member states and of the European Union as a whole", Tusk said.

His commitment to the deal is crucial to clearing a number of hurdles that block the way to next Sunday's summit.

"The government simply can not put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit Secretary and his predecessor have rejected", he said.

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