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Withdrawal Agreement

Esther McVey Resigns – 15 November 2018

A number of resignations have taken place following the “collective agreement” of the Cabinet to accept the Draft of the Withdrawal Agreement on the 14 November 2018.

Esther McVey resigns from her post as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

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 from the outset of your premiership.

Repeatedly you have said that we must regain control of our money, our orders 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, mean handing over around £39bn 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 genuine 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 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 as 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, 973,000 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 to me, not least in the run up to the budget, ensuring Universal Credit got a much need 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.

Categories
Brexit Negotiations

Dominic Raab Resigns – 15 November 2018

A number of resignations have taken place following the “collective agreement” of the Cabinet to accept the Draft of the Withdrawal Agreement on the 14 November 2018.

Dominic Rabb resigns from his post as Brexit Secretary.

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 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 arrangement. That arrangement is 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 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 judgment 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.

Categories
Withdrawal Agreement

Shailesh Vara Resigns – 15 November 2018

A number of resignations have taken place following the “collective agreement” of the Cabinet to accept the Draft of the Withdrawal Agreement on the 14 November 2018.

Shailesh Vara resigns from his post as Northern Ireland Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to offer my resignation as a Minister in your Government. I do so with sadness but I cannot supoort the Withdrawal Agreement that has been agreed with the European Union.

The EU Referendum offered a simple choice – to either stay in or leave the EU.

The result was decisive with the UK public voting to leave and that is what we, their elected representatives, must deliver.

The Agreement put forward however, does not do that as it leaves the UK in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation.

Given the past performance of the EU, there is every possibility that the UK-EU trade deal that we seek will take years to conclude. We will be locked in a Customs Arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say. Worse, we will not be free to leave the Customs Arrangement uniltaterally if we wish to do so. Northern Ireland in the meantime will be subject to a different relationship with the EU from the rest of the UK and whilst I agree there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the economic and constitutional integrity of the UNited Kingdom must be respected.

With respect Prime Minister, this Agreement does not provide for the the United Kingdom being a sovereign, independent country leaving the shackles of the EU, however it is worded.

We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart. We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better. That is why I cannot support this agreement.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve as a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office and I leave with the fondest of memories.

Yours,

Shailesh Vara

Categories
Brexit

Boris Johnson Resignation

A few hours after the resignation of David Davis as Secretary of State for Exiting EU, Boris Johnson has resigned as Foreign Secretary.

Here’s Boris Johnson’s resignation letter:

Dear Theresa

It is more than two years since the British people voted to leave the European Union on an unambiguous and categorical promise that if they did so they would be taking back control of their democracy.

They were told that they would be able to manage their own immigration policy, repatriate the sums of UK cash currently spent by the EU, and, above all, that they would be able to pass laws independently and in the interests of the people of this country.

Brexit should be about opportunity and hope. It should be a chance to do things differently, to be more nimble and dynamic, and to maximise the particular advantages of the UK as an open, outward-looking global economy.

That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.

We have postponed crucial decisions – including the preparations for no deal, as I argued in my letter to you of last November – with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.

It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws. Indeed we seem to have gone backwards since the last Chequers meeting in February, when I described my frustrations, as Mayor of London, in trying to protect cyclists from juggernauts. We had wanted to lower the cabin windows to improve visibility; and even though such designs were already on the market, and even though there had been a horrific spate of deaths, mainly of female cyclists, we were told that we had to wait for the EU to legislate on the matter.

So at the previous Chequers session we thrashed out an elaborate procedure for divergence from EU rules. But even that now seems to have been taken off the table, and there is in fact no easy UK right of initiative. Yet if Brexit is to mean anything, it must surely give ministers and Parliament the chance to do things differently to protect the public. If a country cannot pass a law to save the lives of female cyclists – when that proposal is supported at every level of UK government – then I don’t see how that country can truly be called independent.

Conversely, the British government has spent decades arguing against this or that EU directive, on the grounds that it was too burdensome or ill-thought out. We are now in the ludicrous position of asserting that we must accept huge amounts of precisely such EU law, without changing an iota, because it is essential for our economic health – and when we no longer have any ability to influence these laws as they are made.

In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.

It is also clear that by surrendering control over our rulebook for goods and agrifoods (and much else besides) we will make it much more difficult to do free trade deals. And then there is the further impediment of having to argue for an impractical and undeliverable customs arrangement unlike any other in existence.

What is even more disturbing is that this is our opening bid. This is already how we see the end state for the UK – before the other side has made its counter-offer. It is as though we are sending our vanguard into battle with the white flags fluttering above them. Indeed, I was concerned, looking at Friday’s document, that there might be further concessions on immigration, or that we might end up effectively paying for access to the single market.

On Friday I acknowledged that my side of the argument were too few to prevail, and congratulated you on at least reaching a cabinet decision on the way forward. As I said then, the government now has a song to sing. The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat. We must have collective responsibility. Since I cannot in all conscience champion these proposals, I have sadly concluded that I must go.

I am proud to have served as Foreign Secretary in your government. As I step down, I would like first to thank the patient officers of the Metropolitan Police who have looked after me and my family, at times in demanding circumstances. I am proud too of the extraordinary men and women of our diplomatic service. Over the last few months they have shown how many friends this country has around the world, as 28 governments expelled Russian spies in an unprecedented protest at the attempted assassination of the Skripals. They have organised a highly successful Commonwealth summit and secured record international support for this government’s campaign for 12 years of quality education for every girl, and much more besides. As I leave office, the FCO now has the largest and by far the most effective diplomatic network of any country in Europe — a continent which we will never leave.

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Here’s the reply from Theresa May:

Dear Boris,

Thank you for your letter relinquishing the office of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

I am sorry – and a little surprised – to receive it after the productive discussions we had at Chequers on Friday, and the comprehensive and detailed proposal which we agreed as a Cabinet. It is a proposal which will honour the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our general election manifesto to leave the single market and the customs union. It will mean that we take back control of our borders, our laws, and our money – ending the freedom of movement, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom, and ending the days of sending vast sums of taxpayers’ money to the European Union. We will be able to spend that money on our priorities instead – such as the £20 billion increase we have announced for the NHS budget, which means that we will soon be spending an extra £394 million a week on our National Health Service.

As I outlined at Chequers, the agreement we reached requires the full, collective support of Her Majesty’s Government. During the EU referendum campaign, collective responsibility on EU policy was temporarily suspended. As we developed our policy on Brexit, I have allowed Cabinet colleagues considerable latitude to express their individual views. But the agreement we reached on Friday marks the point where that is no longer the case, and if you are not able to provide the support we need to secure this deal in the interests of the United Kingdom, it is right that you should step down.

As you do so, I would like to place on record my appreciation of the service you have given to our country, and to the Conservative Party, as Mayor of London and as Foreign Secretary – not least for the passion that you have demonstrated in promoting a Global Britain to the world as we leave the European Union.

Yours ever,

Theresa May

Categories
Brexit

David Davis Resignation

48 hours following the meeting of the cabinet at Chequers, David Davis resigns as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union saying that he was no longer the best person to deliver the PM’s Brexit plan as he did not “believe” in it.

Here’s the resignation letter from David Davis and the response from Theresa May.

8th July 2018

Dear Prime Minister

As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission’s sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report. At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.

I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely. Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement In February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.

The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.
As I said at Cabinet, the “common rule book” policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.

I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.

Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong. However, even in that event it seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript. While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.

Yours ever

David Davis

Here’s the response from Theresa May

Dear David

Thank you for your letter explaining your decision to resign as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit, and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.

At Chequers on Friday, we as the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and detailed proposal which provides a precise, responsible, and credible basis for progressing our negotiations towards a new relationship between the UK and the EU after we leave in March. We set out how we will deliver on the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our manifesto for the 2017 general election:

1. Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.

2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders.

3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.

4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

5. A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs.

6. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.

7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.

8. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

9. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

10. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

11. Continued, close co-operation on security to keep our people safe.

12. An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with the EU and other allies.

This is consistent with the mandate of the referendum and with the commitments we laid out in our general election manifesto: leaving the single market and the customs union but seeking a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement; ending the vast annual contributions to the EU; and pursuing fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible so both sides benefit.

As we said in our manifesto, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50.

I have always agreed with you that these two must go alongside one another, but if we are to get sufficient detail about our future partnership, we need to act now. We have made a significant move: it is for the EU now to respond in the same spirit.

I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.

Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom.

The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.

Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign Parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the UK legal order.

I am sorry that the Government will not have the benefit of your continued expertise and counsel as we secure this deal and complete the process of leaving the EU, but I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU, and the new role the UK will forge on the world stage as an independent, self-governing nation once again.

You returned to Government after nineteen years to lead an entirely new Department responsible for a vital, complex, and unprecedented task.

You have helped to steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, including the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last week.

These landmark Acts, and what they will do, stand as testament to your work and our commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.

Yours sincerely,

Theresa May