British Prime Minister Theresa May battled for her political survival on Thursday as ministers resigned and members of her own party plotted to oust her over a draft Brexit deal struck with Brussels this week.
"If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement", European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. The UK House of Commons would then have to ratify it. "I think MPs across my party who look at that deal will recognise the importance of delivering on the vote of the British people and recognise the importance of doing that in a way that does protect people's jobs, protect security and protect the unity of our United Kingdom".
She later made her case again at a press conference where she urged her party to rally around the deal.
They also believe May has conceded too much to Brussels in other key areas, while European Union supporters are calling for a second referendum on a final deal.
"These decisions were not taken lightly but I believe it is a decision that is firmly in the national interest".
"This is exactly what this agreement will deliver. Free movement ended, vast annual payments stopped, the jurisdiction of the ECJ over", May summarised. Jurisdiction of the ECJ: over.
"It will be to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it".
Much of the controversy surrounding the deal has focused on a "backstop" clause that would keep the U.K.in a customs union in case an additional trade deal is not forged.
In this Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 file photo Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab waits at EU headquarters in Brussels.
"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", Raab said in his resignation letter. "We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated".
Opposition parties also signaled that they would vote against the agreement if it comes before them - most likely in December.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, said May was offering a "false choice between no deal and this deal", which he said "represents a huge and damaging failure".
"I can not reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made".
"Am I going to see this through?" she questioned.
Several Euro-skeptic Conservative lawmakers were reported to have submitted letters to party authorities in the parliament demanding a confidence vote on her leadership, saying it was time to change leader.
If 48 such letters are sent to Graham Brady, the party official who represents the interests of Conservative MPs, a leadership contest would be triggered.
"My Right Honorable Friend, and she is unquestionably honorable, said that we would leave the customs union. annex 2 says otherwise", Rees-Mogg said in the Commons, challenging how May had presented the deal. She warned that "voting against the deal would take us back to square one and it would mean more uncertainty and more division and the failure to deliver on the decision of the British people that we should leave the European Union".
The list of possible replacements is long, but there is no clear front runner. Around 10 ministers - almost a third of the total - are understood to have spoken out against parts of the package, amid reports that a no confidence vote against the PM could be triggered as early as today.
There were already rumblings that while she claimed the Cabinet had collectively given its backing to her deal, many ministers had spoken out against it and were not entirely happy with the final text. Should the deal be voted down, that would fuel calls for May's resignation, as well as calls from Labour MPs for a general election.