Raab resignation: A damning verdict on the PM's deal

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

media captionDominic Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary, says a change of course is needed

12:00 GMT: I've just been speaking to Dominic Raab, the now former Brexit Secretary. His verdict on the prime minister's deal is damning.

He told me that because of the way the agreement treats Northern Ireland and the rest of the country differently - and the way the country couldn't decide on its own to leave the so-called backstop - that the draft deal is a betrayal of people's trust.

Mr Raab, who says he told the chief whip straight after cabinet yesterday that he would quit, says the prime minister can still change course, and should be ready to walk away with no deal.

He insists the short-term disruption that might entail - which many of his colleagues think would be catastrophic - would be worth it. Better in his view to tolerate short-term pain, than lock ourselves into a dreadful arrangement for years and years to come.

That prospect horrifies others in the government, and on the backbenches too. But it's a risk worth taking he says - claiming it's the best way to proceed, to be willing to risk no deal in the face of what he describes as the EU's "blackmail".

The alternative for the prime minister, carrying on like this, he says, is inevitable defeat in the Commons and who knows what would happen then. Might he put himself forward if it all falls apart?

His answer was it is "irresponsible" to be talking about that right now. But notably, not ruling himself out and knowing, perhaps in a few days' or weeks' time, he might have to give a very different answer.

10:00 GMT: A resignation in itself is not a surprise - but the departure of the Brexit secretary might be the domino that causes everything else to fall.

It's not just that it was his job to make the policy work. It's because he has just given unhappy Brexiteers someone to rally round, and someone who sees himself as a potential challenger to the PM.

After his departure, it becomes extremely difficult for other Brexiteers unhappy about the deal to stay on.

And in the last few minutes Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has decided to leave the government.

There is speculation about International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt too, although sources close to her say a departure today is far from definite.

Meanwhile, No 10 is busy trying to explain its policy this morning to opposition politicians and then to Parliament in the next hour.

But there have been three resignations from government - Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara was the first to quit - and it's not even 10:00 GMT.

It's too early to say if this morning's storm will be a hurricane that will sweep the policy, and maybe the prime minister away.