British Prime Minister Theresa May battled Thursday to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest at an agreement they say will trap Britain in the bloc's orbit for years.
Just over 12 hours after May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.
Their departure, the resignations of two junior ministers and reports others were considering quitting, shakes May's divided government and her Brexit strategy, raising the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Some lawmakers openly questioned whether May's government could survive.
Raab is the second Brexit secretary to quit over May's plans to leave the EU, the biggest shift in British policy in more than 40 years. By leaving now, some suggested that Raab could be positioning himself as a possible successor to May.
But the prime minister showed little sign of backing down. In parliament, she warned lawmakers they now faced a stark decision.
"The choice is clear. 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," she said.
She said those lawmakers who believed she could get a deal that did not include a backstop arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland were wrong.
Her spokesman said May would fight any vote of confidence in her premiership and she intended to be prime minister when Britain leaves the bloc in March next year.
Less than five months until Britain leaves the EU, the resignations put May's Brexit strategy in doubt.
EU leaders are ready to meet on Nov. 25 to sign off on the divorce deal, or Withdrawal Agreement, but French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe summed up the uncertainty when he said events in London raised concerns about whether it would be ratified.
"We need to prepare ourselves for a no-deal Brexit," he said.