Esther McVey has quit the government. The Work and Pensions Secretary has long known to be unhappy with Theresa May’s Brexit policy and at yesterday’s Cabinet pushed repeatedly for a vote, so she could register her objection to the withdrawal agreement. Having been denied that vote, she realised that the only way a Cabinet Minister can really show that they oppose a policy is by resigning—and has done so this morning.
McVey’s resignation is less of a blow to May than Raab’s; most Tory MPs were expecting her to go at some point. But it adds to the sense of crisis surrounding the government this morning.
In total, four ministers have quit the government so far this morning—Suella Braverman, a junior DEXEU Minister, and Shailesh Vara have also gone. All of this adds to the sense that this deal can’t pass first time round without wholesale Labour support. It also increases the likelihood of the 48 letters going in, though I understand that some in the ERG are arguing against this on the grounds May would win a confidence vote (which she almost certainly would).
Theresa May is up in the House of Commons in a few minutes. She will be under immense pressure. But as the saying has it, the safest place for a minister in a crisis is at the despatch box in the House of Commons. She will, at that point, at least be the focus of attention and able to try and shape the debate. For at the moment, her deal is being defined by its many opponents.