Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has quit the cabinet, saying she no longer believes the government’s approach will deliver Brexit. Her resignation comes amid a backlash against Theresa May’s Brexit plan from Conservative MPs.
Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that the PM cannot stay, with one saying it is “the end of the line”.
Mrs Leadsom previously ran for Tory leader but withdrew, clearing the path for Mrs May to become prime minister.
As Commons leader, she was in charge of organising government business and had been due to announce when the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be introduced to Parliament.
Her resignation is the 36th by a minister under Theresa May – 21 of them over Brexit – and comes a day before the UK votes in the European elections.
The move came after a day of drama at Westminster in which anger grew at the prime minister’s attempt to win backing for the bill – the legislation needed to implement the agreement between the UK and EU on the terms of Brexit.
As part of it, Mrs May has offered a number of concessions, including a chance for MPs to hold a vote on another referendum if they back the bill.
In a letter to the prime minister, Mrs Leadsom – MP for South Northamptonshire – said she did not believe “the UK would be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed”.
She also described holding another referendum as “dangerously divisive”, and said she was opposed to the government “willingly facilitating such a concession”.
Another referendum would “risk undermining our Union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened”, she argued.
She also attacked the “breakdown of government processes” saying that Brexit-related legislation proposals had not been “properly scrutinised”.
She concluded her letter by paying tribute to “the integrity, resolution and determination” of the prime minister and urging her to “make the right decisions in the interests of the country, the government and our party”.
Mrs Leadsom’s resignation was praised by Conservative MP Tom Pursglove as “a very honourable and decent stand”.
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