BREXIT Secretary Dominic Raab has resigned in a massive blow to Prime Minister Theresa May over her draft EU withdrawal agreement.
Mr Raab, who took over in July after the resignation of his predecessor David Davis, said he could not "in good conscience" support the deal as it threatened the integrity of the UK.
His departure from the Cabinet follows the resignation of Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara earlier on Thursday morning.
"I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign," Mr Raab wrote in a statement on Twitter.
He said he could not support an indefinite "backstop" arrangement in which the EU holds a veto over Britain's ability to leave.
Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her. pic.twitter.com/tf5CUZnnUz
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) 15 November 2018
"No democratic nation has 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," he said in his resignation letter.
Mr Raab's departure will put even more pressure on other Cabinet members to quit after they reluctantly agreed to Mrs May's 585-page deal following a five-hour meeting last night.
The PM's critics have claimed she could reach the 48 letters of no confidence needed to trigger a Tory party leadership contest as soon as today.
Earlier today, North West Cambridgeshire MP Mr Vara – who backed Britain staying in the EU in the 2016 referendum – said he was resigning as Minister of State for Northern Ireland because Mrs May's deal "does not provide for the United Kingdom being a sovereign, independent country leaving the shackles of the EU".
He added: "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."