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Esther Mcvey, Nina, Has Resigned. Aired: 5-6a ET

Aired November 15, 2018 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Thanks for joining us, I'm Max Foster outside the UK Houses of Parliament. This is "CNN Newsroom." We begin here in London with breaking news. Within the last hour, word that the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab has resigned comes after the Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to present her draft Brexit deal to Parliament here and winning over is by no means guaranteed.

We're also seeing that Esther McVey, Nina, has resigned who is another Cabinet Minister, not as senior as Dominic Raab, but this is looking very bad for the Prime Minister.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It is. In fact, it was expected that she was likely to be the first person to go, but the fact that Dominic Raab who is obviously senior to her and crucial to these negotiations has gone first as I pointed out before on CNN, gives political cover to other more dissented voices inside the Cabinet including Esther McVey.

Now, she was obviously in favor of Brexit, the hardest type of Brexit than some of the members of the Cabinet, what she said in her resignation letter here is, "The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honor the results of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn't meet the tests that you have set from the outset of your own premiership. Repeatedly, you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders and our laws and develop our independent trade policy. I've always supported you to deliver on these objectives ..." But effectively, she says "That with Chequers proposal, you haven't."

So Esther McVey perhaps that could pave the way for people like the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt who is said to espouse similar views to Esther McVey to also break cover, tender her resignation and as these resignations start to mount up, the big question is, how many of these MPs and back benchers has started writing to the 1922 Committee to table a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's leadership because that is what could topple her.

FOSTER: And so we've had a Northern Ireland Minister and two Cabinet Ministers go today, including the Brexit Minister who runs Brexit. So what does that say to the Members of Parliament here who are going to be asked to vote on this draft agreement?

DOS SANTOS: It says that members, key members of Theresa May's own Cabinet and also members of her party which by the way lost its majority in the House of Commons in 2017 thanks to her decision to call an ill-fated election do not agree on the proposal that she is putting forward. So thousand hours of negotiations have gone on with Brussels. This

has been an extremely costly exercise both in terms of money and in terms of political capital, it's looking very unlikely that she has actually managed to get this through her Cabinet. She got a collective agreement, she didn't get a unanimous agreement. She might have cobbled together a majority, but that majority is already slipping away from her, all of this just 25 minutes before she is going to face a grilling from both sides of the House of Commons.

FOSTER: We've got a camera on Downing Street. I mean, the amount of tension in the building is just - her authority is collapsing, but we can't jump the gun can we, and say she's on the way out? Because there is no one the Tory Party agrees on to replace her.

DOS SANTOS: You're absolutely right. And we saw this a couple of months ago when obviously David Davis, the previous Brexit Secretary before Dominic Raab took up the position when he resigned and that precipitated the resignation, another big beast on the leave side, Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary.

Boris Johnson has since then agitated to replace Theresa May, but it's unclear what his own policy would be. It's also unclear whether the members of Parliament and members of the Conservative Party and certain factions within the Brexit camp would vote for him, whether he is popular with them, even if he might be popular with the members.

So again, it is very unclear who would be willing to take on the baton, who has the metal to push this though Theresa May is repeatedly being congratulated for her steely resolve in a difficult time like this, and also who would have the support?

What is likely perhaps, Max is that they let this go perhaps until the vote, which should happen before Parliamentary recess on December the 20th, and then we might have some kind of Christmas content for the leadership before of course the actual deal is done in the end of March.

FOSTER: So big news here. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigning. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigning, also a Northern Ireland Minister resigning, and letters going into Parliament as well calling for a vote of no confidence on Theresa May within her own party. So huge amount of pressure on her. She's due to speak in about 25 minutes from now.

[05:05:03]

FOSTER: We were expecting her to speak for about an hour, the House of Commons itself saying that this could easily go on longer than that. She has got to convince the Parliament that once she has this agreement, she has got through the Cabinet, but once she brings it back to Parliament, trying to convince them to vote on it and the problem they've got -she's got now is that she has managed to alienate, not only leavers but remainers because she has compromised to such an extent, neither side is happy.

DOS SANTOS: Well, and we saw this when Jo Johnson, the brother of Boris Johnson who by the way is on the other side of the Brexit divide, Jo Johnson, a senior Cabinet member who was actually - sorry, senior government member who was pro-remain, his brother, Boris Johnson pro-leave. Jo Johnson says that he agreed with his brother that essentially this deal was just such a bad deal it wouldn't be worth voting for and that he was planning on voting it down. He resigned last week.

And he used the same sort of language that pro-Brexiteers are using which is the idea that this deal essentially leaves the UK's embattled state to the EU without a unilateral right to exit the EU when it wants or it has the choice between a no deal chaos.

And he said that isn't choice that I in any good conscience can actually put to the British people, so I am resigning. He called for a second referendum.

Now, just in the last hour, you were talking to Chuka Umanno from the Labour Party, he is obviously pro-remain, he was saying how the momentum for a second referendum is growing even within his own Party that is conflicted on the issue as well because Jeremy Corbyn is Eurosceptic and many of his own peers would like to see --

FOSTER: Alastair Campbell saying the same thing. They've both been pushing further haven't they from the start.

DOS SANTOS: And Tony Blair as well, Alastair Campbell's former boss.

FOSTER: You mentioned Penny Mordaunt earlier. It doesn't look as though she is resigning because I'd just seen here on Twitter that she's arrived in the chamber and she's sitting on the front bench.

DOS SANTOS: Right.

FOSTER: So that implies that the most likely one to follow Esther McVey isn't going, would you say?

DOS SANTOS: It sounds like it, but it's very difficult to see who will move now because as I said, Dominic Raab has given significant cover to dissenting voices who would like to potentially leave and if you look at some of these letters here, again the same issues come up time and time again. Esther McVey talking about the issue of sovereignty and regaining back control. Dominic Raab as well. The Northern Ireland Minister who resigned earlier today, the first resignation to go albeit not from a Cabinet member, but still saying there's two reasons why I don't agree with this. One is that we could be beholden to the EU in this temporary holding pattern and then two, the agreement when it comes to Northern Ireland isn't satisfactory and that could threaten the support to the DUP.

FOSTER: Dominic Raab was someone that very much represented the Brexiteers within the Cabinet, now that he's gone, who have they got really to pin their support to? Doesn't Brexiteer support for the Cabinet completely collapse?

DOS SANTOS: Perhaps it does, but it's also been the European Research Group that has been significant behind the scenes. This significant back bench movement that has been calling the shots in terms of Jacob Rees-Mogg, obviously ...

FOSTER: Yes, he heads that up.

DOS SANTOS: .. leads that, that has also been dictating a lot of the pro-Brexit policy and in fact, what we saw was after the Chequers agreement when we saw early government resignations, David Davis, Boris Johnson and that nearly precipitated leadership contest for Theresa May. We saw the former head of the ERG, Steve Baker come out and say he had up to 80 MPs who would support him to write against the Chequers proposal, to vote it down.

That didn't equate to 80 MPs who would be willing to topple the Prime Minister. The difficulty here is her Brexit negotiations, her Chequers compromise has been used as a proxy battle for the leadership contest. The question is, do they have the metal to actually mount one here?

FOSTER: And what's interesting is, apparently she has spent the morning speaking to opposition politicians to try to get them on site with the deal, so it's almost as if the party politics is collapsing here as well because she just wants to get this deal through whether it is with her own party support or any party support.

DOS SANTOS: And there are sorts of negotiations, let's face it, that have been going on for the best part of the year. In fact, the first thing Theresa May did after the five-hour marathon Cabinet and she addressed the press was she went and had gone met with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons behind us to try and muster support.

He was very noncommittal after that meeting. But again, as I said before, he has a slightly more Eurosceptic stance than some members of his party including Chuka Umunna from the Labour Party who was sitting here in my seat about 20 minutes ago with you.

He has been noncommittal. He said more or less, I think that this is not the type of proposal that we could endorse as a party, but the reality is, she will just have to see whether she can get the Parliamentary arithmetic when she tries to put it through the House of Commons in December and when it comes to that, the moment is not looking favorable and if there are more resignations, it will look less favorable.

FOSTER: Well, she tries to temper things because Theresa May is resilient if nothing else. She's had so many crises during her tenure, hasn't she? She survives them all partly because of this fear that if it goes to general election, Jeremy Corbyn would get in, but also because ...

[05:10:10]

FOSTER: ... there's no agreement about whether or not a leaver or remainer could replace her. So this deal could ultimately still go through. She could remain as Prime Minister. We should make that clear because we're getting ahead of ourselves, we're suggesting anything otherwise right now. DOS SANTOS: That's right and she could actually stand up and face

her party and say, I am the best option, not just this is the best option in terms of a deal that you have, but now, I am the best option as Prime Minister that you currently have. She could actually do that before a no confidence vote is actually tabled and we do have some precedent within the Conservative Party during John Major's time for that to actually happen.

She hasn't shown her cards yet, let's face it on that side. What she has said is, she is sticking to this deal. It's the best type of deal we can get. Interestingly enough, she changed her stance slightly in yesterday's speech when she said, we had the choice of a bad deal, this kind of deal, no deal or no Brexit.

And that could open the door to potentially a softening of the stance on a second referendum, which Downing Street has flatly denied is not an option on the cards at the moment up until now.

FOSTER: Okay, we're expecting Theresa May speaking in less than 20 minutes from now. Everyone here in Westminster will be watching. If they're not inside, they're going to be watching TV. No double a few people in Brussel as well. Erin is there. Erin, are all eyes on Downing Street there in Brussels or have they got other things they're worrying about today?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I think it's fair to say, Max, all eyes on Downing Street here at Brussels at this point, although we have yet to hear directly from any EU leaders about this latest development. We are expecting to hear from the Chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier as well as from Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit negotiator for Parliament. They are expected to hold a press conference shortly in Strasburg. It will be very interesting to see if they comment on the current political situation playing out there in London.

But it is worth nothing that EU leaders have long made a point not to comment directly on the internal political situation of members states, although, Theresa May's predicament, the fragile political situation which she finds herself in has long been of note here in Brussels. It's been a factor - a big factor throughout these negotiations especially in terms of the timing of things.

It remains an open question what would happen to this process if Theresa May falls, if this agreement fails to make it through British Parliament, it is on track to be signed off by the 27 member states at an emergency summit that was called this morning by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk as well as Michel Barnier for November 25th.

But Tusk put a caveat to that. He said, barring any extraordinary circumstance that that summit would happen, he did not go into detail in terms of extraordinary circumstances would prevent the summit from going ahead, Max.

FOSTER: Okay, Erin, thank you. We've got the camera fixed on Downing Street as we speak because Theresa May is behind that door speaking to opposition teams - at least we know that at Downing Street, she is speaking to opposition team, also preparing for this big moment and hearing this news throughout the course of the morning about her Cabinet Ministers are leaving, the question is whether or not anymore will leave and whether or not she can convince Parliament at 10:30 that this deal should go through.

In terms of the next move from Brussels, what is that, Erin? Is it the meeting on the 25th? Okay, we've lost Erin just for a moment, but we've got with us here James Blitz from the "Financial Times" who is trying to make sense of all of all of these for your readers.

JAMES BLITZ, LEADER WRITER, FINANCIAL TIMES: Yes, I mean, it's quite a difficult day for Mrs. May to put it bluntly.

FOSTER: Was it a shock to you that Dominic Raab left?

BLITZ: Yes, I think it is a shock because you know, people have factored in the possibility that Esther McVey would go, she's gone, but that wasn't going to ruffle things up much anymore than you suggested who is probably going to stay, and people were looking at that yesterday. That's the kind of level.

Dominic Raab was always a possibility. I mean, he is a hard Brexiteer, but the fact is, that Mrs. May had lost David Davis and she lost one Brexit Secretary and the problem for her was that when she brought Dominic Raab in, she couldn't really afford to lose him as well.

And to lose him now at this moment basically means we're probably looking at some kind of vote of no confidence in Mrs. May. I'd be surprised if that wasn't happening. If Dominic Raab hadn't gone, that without that being a wider move against Mrs. May on the story of Brexit.

[05:15:06]

FOSTER: How technically does that work? These are letters that go into the 1922 Committee, right?

BLITZ: Yes, what happens is that MPs have to send letters to the head of the 1922 Committee, which is the Committee that brings together all the back benchers. If 48 go through, which is 15% of the MPs - the Tory MPs in Parliament, there is then a vote of no confidence, a straight vote of no confidence.

If 159 MPs vote against Mrs. May in that vote of no confidence, she is toppled. She has to go and then a wider leadership contest opens up, a political stand.

FOSTER: So where are we with the letters right now?

BLITZ: Well, up until now, it looks like the letters have been at 46, 47. I suspect it's a good chance. One can't predict this because in many ways it's irrational. I mean, as you've been saying earlier, I mean, to remove Mrs. May now, it's not clear what would happen. Who would replace her? But the fact is that it's looking like those letters are broadly there.

The bigger question I think is, are there 159 to actually vote her down when you come to the vote of no confidence? I mean, that's the thing on which I think people are less sure.

FOSTER: And Dominic Raab presumably is suggesting that he might be a potential next leader of the Conservative Party.

BLITZ: Well, there's nothing that I've seen or heard that suggest there is an obvious candidate around whom everybody is going to convert. I mean, if this whole thing is going to work with some kind of leadership challenge that removes Mrs. May, put someone else in and then gets things going on another direction, they've got to have a lot of organization around one candidate with one program and is going to do it and I am not sure that's there to be honest.

I still think in the end, this is quite possibly going to be that happens, a leadership challenge which in the end pewters out, because it needs a lot of momentum to win over 159 MPs.

FOSTER: She's smart, isn't she, Theresa May? We know that. She's resilient. How do you think she's going to walk this tight rope when she leaves the door today?

DOS SANTOS: Well, it's an interesting guess. It's anybody's guess really. I mean, obviously, the key thing will be to try and convince Labour to support her, to try and keep those DUP 10 votes on her side. Obviously, they've made a very clear Esther McVey and Dominic Raab and the letters. I'm just reading Esther McVey's letter which is quite long and quite strong language. They have made it quite clear that probably, they would put their names towards those types of letters to the 1922 Committee to margin a confidence vote.

But just going back to what James is saying about obviously candidates emerging. It is interesting to see people like Jeremy Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary soften and change their stance versus Brexit for the pro-remainer who could be espousing more sort of Canada type model now. That has been going on for the last month or so to try and rally support among those pro-Brexit factions.

And frankly, anybody would just need to get on their side, but it isn't obvious that there is a candidate anybody could fixate on.

FOSTER: And your readers around the world, are they incredibly frustrated that they just don't know what's going on? Do they really care about all the politics?

BLITZ: Look at the pound in the last hour. I mean sterling has pretty much plunged to $1.28. I mean, people are watching this incredibly closely. Anybody with UK based investments is watching this extremely closely because what's at risk here is the possibility of crashing out of the EU without a deal in four months' time and mostly, we look at this, the vast majority of people in business, certainly most people in politics think that would be a catastrophic outcome and one which would have a really negative effect on business in this country. And so it had - this is one of those very rare moments where political

decisions are being watched extremely closely by a large number of people across the business world.

FOSTER: Does a leadership contest make the UK crashing out of the European Union more likely?

BLITZ: Yes, I think it does. No question. I don't think the British - we're at a stage now where the British have to move towards some defined decision on this whole thing. It is either going to be leave on May's terms or it's going to be crash out or it's going to be second referendum that leads to one of two outcomes -- May's deal or stay.

I mean, those - I suppose, there's a possible third option of the public voting no deal. I mean, but that is what we're moving towards. I've always taken the view if we have a leadership contest now, and remember, leadership contest technically can last two months. I covered the last leadership - the last Tory leadership contest in 2005 between David Cameron and David Davis, it lasted two months because you have to go out to the country.

So we don't have time now for all of that, and at the same time, we certainly don't have time for another general election in this phase between now and the end of March because a general election could produce one hung Parliament or two, a government of exactly the kind we've had up until now, which is one which is totally divided on Brexit.

So we don't want leadership contest. We don't want a general election. We want a defined ending. It's either May's deal, no deal, God forbid or stay. I think those are the three which I think are rationale.

[05:20:07]

FOSTER: And also to have a very clear position when she goes into Parliament today. She can be tough because of the secret weapon, is that there might be a general election which wouldn't be good for anyone.

DOS SANTOS: She can, but the other thing also is that - the two main parties here are seeing their ideologies being completely rewritten and their make ups and the nature of the conservative versus the Labour Party relationship being completely rewritten here. In fact, you hear time and time again, in particular remain Labour MPs, with other MPs from the Conservative Party saying it will be now be up to Parliament to show leadership not the Conservative Party. That's an interesting dynamic that we haven't heard in quite some time.

BLITZ: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, I think a lot of people are saying Parliament does have to show leadership and that maybe what happens in the next phase.

FOSTER: In terms of what you're looking for in the speech today, obviously, you followed her speeches very closely and she dose rise to the occasion usually, doesn't she? Particularly when she is under a huge amount of pressure, there have been some famous moments when she didn't perform particularly well, but she's always strong and she reacts pretty well in these situations, doesn't she?

BLITZ: Yes, sorry, yes, but this is certainly the toughest of all the challenges. Today is absolutely the hardest day of the lot because she has the deal and she has got back benchers who are going to be giving her a very hard time.

FOSTER: There she is, Theresa May is getting in the car. She's heading our way. She's only a few minutes away from Parliament and then she has to get through the building and get into the chamber where she will deliver her speech.

What do we think? About an hour or longer? Her speech?

DOS SANTOS: Who knows? But an hour is scheduled, isn't it? But I think they've already come out with a statement saying it may well be longer than that. Hopefully, it's not five hours like the Cabinet meeting, but who knows.

BLITZ: Speaking in this issues gives a lot of time for questions these days, so it can go on quite a while.

FOSTER: And presumably, business in the chamber has been cleared for this today.

BLITZ: Yes, I mean, there's no other show in town to use a rather bad phrase, but I mean that is the situation. I mean, I think it's going to be tough for her because you know, she's got to present the deal and she's going to have a lot of her back benchers coming up really strongly against it and there are these problems that she has in the text to emerge.

One of them is, there is no water tight exit mechanism for the UK for to get out of this all UK customs arrangement. That's problem number one. We don't have a unilateral ability to lever, that's the first problem.

And the second problem is the arrangement on the all UK customs arrangement does really leave Northern Ireland inside the EU to a very considerable degree and so, the customs union and the single market to a degree that we are not and that's going to be quite a hard line to defend.

FOSTER: Okay, James, thank you very much indeed. Also to Nina. We're expecting to hear from the Prime Minister in the next 10 minutes or so. We'll bring it to you live. We'll be back though in just a moment for some more analysis of what to expect.

[05:25:00]

FOSTER: With two of her Cabinet ministers resigning in the last couple of hours, Theresa May is facing arguably the speech of her career. She is about to come here to Parliament to try to sell her outlined deal and present it. She presented to Cabinet yesterday and then ultimately has to get through the Parliament, but it seems to have upset remainers as much as leavers, and that's why we saw Dominic Raab going and also Esther McVey who are key members of her team.

I am joined by Gina Miller. She is a businesswoman who is very involved in the whole Brexit today because you're the one that brought that initial case, didn't you, against the government? And you've become a very influential voice within this debate. When it came to Dominic Raab's resignation, we're hearing from earlier from James Blitz, he's a very big name in journalism here. He was saying he was surprised by it. Were you surprised by it?

GINA MILLER, ANTI-BREXIT CAMPAIGNER: I would say, no. None of this is surprising me because it was always going to be an impossible task to execute Brexit along the May's redlines. The fact that Dominic Raab has actually resigned this morning, to me it's like someone marking their own homework and failing themselves.

I mean, he has been involved in this process and to leave it so late in the day because the Ministers will now go back to them, as you say, rightly because of my case. So, they should be very happy they've got the opportunity, but I still don't see how we get through Parliament. And now, I think the realities that we are facing is this has to go back to the people and I don't think it should be --

FOSTER: A second referendum.

MILLER: Yes, not through an election because the problem with an election, it would be a waste to go back to the British people when we are so - one issue election is really not what we should be doing and actually, Labour have not a good record on Brexit. They have been sitting on the fence. They have not been listening to the British people. Because the British people poll after poll are saying we want another say.

FOSTER: But you're saying a referendum before March?

MILLER: I think now, there has to be either a request to the EU to either stop the clock on Article 50 or extend it. We cannot get out of where we are now. We are heading towards constitutional crisis, political crisis. Nobody knows what happens next.

You've got MPs now, Penny Mordaunt this morning talking about a free vote in Parliament. You've got Anna Soubry talking about a national government which we haven't had since 1948. We are in very unknown waters, and how we can allow that clock to tick when we have all of this uncertainty.

FOSTER: I should go to Hadas Gold because she is looking at the markets today. Hadas, we need to keep across this because the pound is really suffering today as a result of Dominic Raab's resignation, right?

HADAS GOLD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right, I mean, just as we speak, the pound has fallen 1.8%. This is one of the sharpest falls honestly in 17 months for the British pound and it just goes to show as we're just talking about how much investors and the business community, all they want is clarity, all they want is certainty and that's clearly not what they're getting today.

They are getting all of this political uncertainty, the possibility that there is going to be a hard Brexit, the possibility of Theresa May leaving all of these Cabinet ministers resigning. This is the last thing the business community wants and you're seeing that reflected in how the pound is reacting today, and it's just not looking good because if they are afraid of that hard Brexit, it would trade barriers, disruptions to supply chains, medicines, manufactured goods - just a shock to the broader economy.

And so what we're watching right now is clearly the business community would rather have just - the big people that I talk to in the business community, all they want is clarity. All they want is just an idea of what is actually happening and clearly right now, we have no idea what is happening.

FOSTER: Okay, Hadas, thank you. Business community leaders you're speaking to saying the same thing?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, more or less, but what's interesting is that after Theresa May had her marathon cabinet meeting, her Chancellor, Phillip Hammond apparently had a conference call with key leaders of businesses trying to reassure them. And again, there seem to be some divergence in views between Number 10 Downing Street and Number 11 Downing Street, so the Prime Minister and her Chancellor about how much of the Chequers agreement is going to be stuck to.

The business community is essentially saying, well, we want clarity about everything, but that doesn't necessarily for the politicians who are against this deal mean that we have to sacrifice the legislation for it and the future.

MILLER: As a business person, I have to say the things that are missing in this agreement are astonishing. I mean, there is no agreement on road transport, there is no agreement on sanitary or agriculture. There is so little in this agreement ...

FOSTER: But in 7,500 words, she addresses just in time for example which is one of the big concerns of business.

MILLER: Yes, but it doesn't say anything financial services, it doesn't really say anything about services at all, which is 80% of our economy. What I find extraordinary is that these 500 to 600 pages undo 45 years, but it's going to be a legally binding document. It just cannot get through Parliament.

[05:30:02]

FOSTER: We're waiting for Theresa May to address Parliament, a key moment in her career. Perhaps, the moment, would you say, Nina?

DOS SANTOS: Oh who knows? You've covered politics longer than I have, Max.

FOSTER: So far. DOS SANTOS: So far, but she's garnered a lot of respect from people

on both sides of the House, even the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a political beast in this country who is obviously Labour, so that he has respected the way how she has tried to handle this. You have to acknowledge the fact that she is doing a terribly difficult job at a terribly difficult time with a very divided party and an opposition that as Gina made clear, hasn't clarified its stance on this most divisive of issues of the country.

But either, the big question that lawmakers in this country have to answer is, is it worth signing the dotted line.

FOSTER: Let's to go the chamber.

[05:30:00]

(HOUSE OF COMMONS COVERAGE)

[06:00:00]

MAX FOSTER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Thanks for joining us, I'm Max Foster outside the UK Houses of Parliament. This is "CNN Newsroom." We begin here in London with breaking news. Within the last hour, word that the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab has resigned comes after the Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to present her draft Brexit deal to Parliament here and winning over is by no means guaranteed.

We're also seeing that Esther McVey, Nina, has resigned who is another Cabinet Minister, not as senior as Dominic Raab, but this is looking very bad for the Prime Minister.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It is. In fact, it was expected that she was likely to be the first person to go, but the fact that Dominic Raab who is obviously senior to her and crucial to these negotiations has gone first as I pointed out before on CNN, gives political cover to other more dissented voices inside the Cabinet including Esther McVey.

Now, she was obviously in favor of Brexit, the hardest type of Brexit than some of the members of the Cabinet, what she said in her resignation letter here is, "The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honor the results of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn't meet the tests that you have set from the outset of your own premiership. Repeatedly, you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders and our laws and develop our independent trade policy. I've always supported you to deliver on these objectives ..." But effectively, she says "That with Chequers proposal, you haven't."

So Esther McVey perhaps that could pave the way for people like the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt who is said to espouse similar views to Esther McVey to also break cover, tender her resignation and as these resignations start to mount up, the big question is, how many of these MPs and back benchers has started writing to the 1922 Committee to table a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's leadership because that is what could topple her.

FOSTER: And so we've had a Northern Ireland Minister and two Cabinet Ministers go today, including the Brexit Minister who runs Brexit. So what does that say to the Members of Parliament here who are going to be asked to vote on this draft agreement?

DOS SANTOS: It says that members, key members of Theresa May's own Cabinet and also members of her party which by the way lost its majority in the House of Commons in 2017 thanks to her decision to call an ill-fated election do not agree on the proposal that she is putting forward.

So thousand hours of negotiations have gone on with Brussels. This has been an extremely costly exercise both in terms of money and in terms of political capital, it's looking very unlikely that she has actually managed to get this through her Cabinet. She got a collective agreement, she didn't get a unanimous agreement. She might have cobbled together a majority, but that majority is already slipping away from her, all of this just 25 minutes before she is going to face a grilling from both sides of the House of Commons.

FOSTER: We've got a camera on Downing Street. I mean, the amount of tension in the building is just - her authority is collapsing, but we can't jump the gun can we, and say she's on the way out? Because there is no one the Tory Party agrees on to replace her.

DOS SANTOS: You're absolutely right. And we saw this a couple of months ago when obviously David Davis, the previous Brexit Secretary before Dominic Raab took up the position when he resigned and that precipitated the resignation, another big beast on the leave side, Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary.

Boris Johnson has since then agitated to replace Theresa May, but it's unclear what his own policy would be. It's also unclear whether the members of Parliament and members of the Conservative Party and certain factions within the Brexit camp would vote for him, whether he is popular with them, even if he might be popular with the members.

So again, it is very unclear who would be willing to take on the baton, who has the metal to push this though Theresa May is repeatedly being congratulated for her steely resolve in a difficult time like this, and also who would have the support?

What is likely perhaps, Max is that they let this go perhaps until the vote, which should happen before Parliamentary recess on December the 20th, and then we might have some kind of Christmas content for the leadership before of course the actual deal is done in the end of March.

FOSTER: So big news here. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigning. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigning, also a Northern Ireland Minister resigning, and letters going into Parliament as well calling for a vote of no confidence on Theresa May within her own party. So huge amount of pressure on her. She's due to speak in about 25 minutes from now.

[05:05:03]

FOSTER: We were expecting her to speak for about an hour, the House of Commons itself saying that this could easily go on longer than that. She has got to convince the Parliament that once she has this agreement, she has got through the Cabinet, but once she brings it back to Parliament, trying to convince them to vote on it and the problem they've got -she's got now is that she has managed to alienate, not only leavers but remainers because she has compromised to such an extent, neither side is happy.

DOS SANTOS: Well, and we saw this when Jo Johnson, the brother of Boris Johnson who by the way is on the other side of the Brexit divide, Jo Johnson, a senior Cabinet member who was actually - sorry, senior government member who was pro-remain, his brother, Boris Johnson pro-leave. Jo Johnson says that he agreed with his brother that essentially this deal was just such a bad deal it wouldn't be worth voting for and that he was planning on voting it down. He resigned last week.

And he used the same sort of language that pro-Brexiteers are using which is the idea that this deal essentially leaves the UK's embattled state to the EU without a unilateral right to exit the EU when it wants or it has the choice between a no deal chaos.

And he said that isn't choice that I in any good conscience can actually put to the British people, so I am resigning. He called for a second referendum.

Now, just in the last hour, you were talking to Chuka Umanno from the Labour Party, he is obviously pro-remain, he was saying how the momentum for a second referendum is growing even within his own Party that is conflicted on the issue as well because Jeremy Corbyn is Eurosceptic and many of his own peers would like to see --

FOSTER: Alastair Campbell saying the same thing. They've both been pushing further haven't they from the start.

DOS SANTOS: And Tony Blair as well, Alastair Campbell's former boss.

FOSTER: You mentioned Penny Mordaunt earlier. It doesn't look as though she is resigning because I'd just seen here on Twitter that she's arrived in the chamber and she's sitting on the front bench.

DOS SANTOS: Right.

FOSTER: So that implies that the most likely one to follow Esther McVey isn't going, would you say?

DOS SANTOS: It sounds like it, but it's very difficult to see who will move now because as I said, Dominic Raab has given significant cover to dissenting voices who would like to potentially leave and if you look at some of these letters here, again the same issues come up time and time again. Esther McVey talking about the issue of sovereignty and regaining back control. Dominic Raab as well. The Northern Ireland Minister who resigned earlier today, the first resignation to go albeit not from a Cabinet member, but still saying there's two reasons why I don't agree with this. One is that we could be beholden to the EU in this temporary holding pattern and then two, the agreement when it comes to Northern Ireland isn't satisfactory and that could threaten the support to the DUP.

FOSTER: Dominic Raab was someone that very much represented the Brexiteers within the Cabinet, now that he's gone, who have they got really to pin their support to? Doesn't Brexiteer support for the Cabinet completely collapse?

DOS SANTOS: Perhaps it does, but it's also been the European Research Group that has been significant behind the scenes. This significant back bench movement that has been calling the shots in terms of Jacob Rees-Mogg, obviously ...

FOSTER: Yes, he heads that up.

DOS SANTOS: .. leads that, that has also been dictating a lot of the pro-Brexit policy and in fact, what we saw was after the Chequers agreement when we saw early government resignations, David Davis, Boris Johnson and that nearly precipitated leadership contest for Theresa May. We saw the former head of the ERG, Steve Baker come out and say he had up to 80 MPs who would support him to write against the Chequers proposal, to vote it down.

That didn't equate to 80 MPs who would be willing to topple the Prime Minister. The difficulty here is her Brexit negotiations, her Chequers compromise has been used as a proxy battle for the leadership contest. The question is, do they have the metal to actually mount one here?

FOSTER: And what's interesting is, apparently she has spent the morning speaking to opposition politicians to try to get them on site with the deal, so it's almost as if the party politics is collapsing here as well because she just wants to get this deal through whether it is with her own party support or any party support.

DOS SANTOS: And there are sorts of negotiations, let's face it, that have been going on for the best part of the year. In fact, the first thing Theresa May did after the five-hour marathon Cabinet and she addressed the press was she went and had gone met with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons behind us to try and muster support.

He was very noncommittal after that meeting. But again, as I said before, he has a slightly more Eurosceptic stance than some members of his party including Chuka Umunna from the Labour Party who was sitting here in my seat about 20 minutes ago with you.

He has been noncommittal. He said more or less, I think that this is not the type of proposal that we could endorse as a party, but the reality is, she will just have to see whether she can get the Parliamentary arithmetic when she tries to put it through the House of Commons in December and when it comes to that, the moment is not looking favorable and if there are more resignations, it will look less favorable.

FOSTER: Well, she tries to temper things because Theresa May is resilient if nothing else. She's had so many crises during her tenure, hasn't she? She survives them all partly because of this fear that if it goes to general election, Jeremy Corbyn would get in, but also because ...

[05:10:10]

FOSTER: ... there's no agreement about whether or not a leaver or remainer could replace her. So this deal could ultimately still go through. She could remain as Prime Minister. We should make that clear because we're getting ahead of ourselves, we're suggesting anything otherwise right now.

DOS SANTOS: That's right and she could actually stand up and face her party and say, I am the best option, not just this is the best option in terms of a deal that you have, but now, I am the best option as Prime Minister that you currently have. She could actually do that before a no confidence vote is actually tabled and we do have some precedent within the Conservative Party during John Major's time for that to actually happen.

She hasn't shown her cards yet, let's face it on that side. What she has said is, she is sticking to this deal. It's the best type of deal we can get. Interestingly enough, she changed her stance slightly in yesterday's speech when she said, we had the choice of a bad deal, this kind of deal, no deal or no Brexit.

And that could open the door to potentially a softening of the stance on a second referendum, which Downing Street has flatly denied is not an option on the cards at the moment up until now.

FOSTER: Okay, we're expecting Theresa May speaking in less than 20 minutes from now. Everyone here in Westminster will be watching. If they're not inside, they're going to be watching TV. No double a few people in Brussel as well. Erin is there. Erin, are all eyes on Downing Street there in Brussels or have they got other things they're worrying about today?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I think it's fair to say, Max, all eyes on Downing Street here at Brussels at this point, although we have yet to hear directly from any EU leaders about this latest development. We are expecting to hear from the Chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier as well as from Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit negotiator for Parliament. They are expected to hold a press conference shortly in Strasburg. It will be very interesting to see if they comment on the current political situation playing out there in London.

But it is worth nothing that EU leaders have long made a point not to comment directly on the internal political situation of members states, although, Theresa May's predicament, the fragile political situation which she finds herself in has long been of note here in Brussels. It's been a factor - a big factor throughout these negotiations especially in terms of the timing of things.

It remains an open question what would happen to this process if Theresa May falls, if this agreement fails to make it through British Parliament, it is on track to be signed off by the 27 member states at an emergency summit that was called this morning by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk as well as Michel Barnier for November 25th.

But Tusk put a caveat to that. He said, barring any extraordinary circumstance that that summit would happen, he did not go into detail in terms of extraordinary circumstances would prevent the summit from going ahead, Max.

FOSTER: Okay, Erin, thank you. We've got the camera fixed on Downing Street as we speak because Theresa May is behind that door speaking to opposition teams - at least we know that at Downing Street, she is speaking to opposition team, also preparing for this big moment and hearing this news throughout the course of the morning about her Cabinet Ministers are leaving, the question is whether or not anymore will leave and whether or not she can convince Parliament at 10:30 that this deal should go through.

In terms of the next move from Brussels, what is that, Erin? Is it the meeting on the 25th? Okay, we've lost Erin just for a moment, but we've got with us here James Blitz from the "Financial Times" who is trying to make sense of all of all of these for your readers.

JAMES BLITZ, LEADER WRITER, FINANCIAL TIMES: Yes, I mean, it's quite a difficult day for Mrs. May to put it bluntly.

FOSTER: Was it a shock to you that Dominic Raab left?

BLITZ: Yes, I think it is a shock because you know, people have factored in the possibility that Esther McVey would go, she's gone, but that wasn't going to ruffle things up much anymore than you suggested who is probably going to stay, and people were looking at that yesterday. That's the kind of level.

Dominic Raab was always a possibility. I mean, he is a hard Brexiteer, but the fact is, that Mrs. May had lost David Davis and she lost one Brexit Secretary and the problem for her was that when she brought Dominic Raab in, she couldn't really afford to lose him as well.

And to lose him now at this moment basically means we're probably looking at some kind of vote of no confidence in Mrs. May. I'd be surprised if that wasn't happening. If Dominic Raab hadn't gone, that without that being a wider move against Mrs. May on the story of Brexit. [05:15:06]

FOSTER: How technically does that work? These are letters that go into the 1922 Committee, right?

BLITZ: Yes, what happens is that MPs have to send letters to the head of the 1922 Committee, which is the Committee that brings together all the back benchers. If 48 go through, which is 15% of the MPs - the Tory MPs in Parliament, there is then a vote of no confidence, a straight vote of no confidence.

If 159 MPs vote against Mrs. May in that vote of no confidence, she is toppled. She has to go and then a wider leadership contest opens up, a political stand.

FOSTER: So where are we with the letters right now?

BLITZ: Well, up until now, it looks like the letters have been at 46, 47. I suspect it's a good chance. One can't predict this because in many ways it's irrational. I mean, as you've been saying earlier, I mean, to remove Mrs. May now, it's not clear what would happen. Who would replace her? But the fact is that it's looking like those letters are broadly there.

The bigger question I think is, are there 159 to actually vote her down when you come to the vote of no confidence? I mean, that's the thing on which I think people are less sure.

FOSTER: And Dominic Raab presumably is suggesting that he might be a potential next leader of the Conservative Party.

BLITZ: Well, there's nothing that I've seen or heard that suggest there is an obvious candidate around whom everybody is going to convert. I mean, if this whole thing is going to work with some kind of leadership challenge that removes Mrs. May, put someone else in and then gets things going on another direction, they've got to have a lot of organization around one candidate with one program and is going to do it and I am not sure that's there to be honest.

I still think in the end, this is quite possibly going to be that happens, a leadership challenge which in the end pewters out, because it needs a lot of momentum to win over 159 MPs.

FOSTER: She's smart, isn't she, Theresa May? We know that. She's resilient. How do you think she's going to walk this tight rope when she leaves the door today?

DOS SANTOS: Well, it's an interesting guess. It's anybody's guess really. I mean, obviously, the key thing will be to try and convince Labour to support her, to try and keep those DUP 10 votes on her side. Obviously, they've made a very clear Esther McVey and Dominic Raab and the letters. I'm just reading Esther McVey's letter which is quite long and quite strong language. They have made it quite clear that probably, they would put their names towards those types of letters to the 1922 Committee to margin a confidence vote. But just going back to what James is saying about obviously candidates

emerging. It is interesting to see people like Jeremy Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary soften and change their stance versus Brexit for the pro-remainer who could be espousing more sort of Canada type model now. That has been going on for the last month or so to try and rally support among those pro-Brexit factions.

And frankly, anybody would just need to get on their side, but it isn't obvious that there is a candidate anybody could fixate on.

FOSTER: And your readers around the world, are they incredibly frustrated that they just don't know what's going on? Do they really care about all the politics?

BLITZ: Look at the pound in the last hour. I mean sterling has pretty much plunged to $1.28. I mean, people are watching this incredibly closely. Anybody with UK based investments is watching this extremely closely because what's at risk here is the possibility of crashing out of the EU without a deal in four months' time and mostly, we look at this, the vast majority of people in business, certainly most people in politics think that would be a catastrophic outcome and one which would have a really negative effect on business in this country.

And so it had - this is one of those very rare moments where political decisions are being watched extremely closely by a large number of people across the business world.

FOSTER: Does a leadership contest make the UK crashing out of the European Union more likely?

BLITZ: Yes, I think it does. No question. I don't think the British - we're at a stage now where the British have to move towards some defined decision on this whole thing. It is either going to be leave on May's terms or it's going to be crash out or it's going to be second referendum that leads to one of two outcomes -- May's deal or stay.

I mean, those - I suppose, there's a possible third option of the public voting no deal. I mean, but that is what we're moving towards. I've always taken the view if we have a leadership contest now, and remember, leadership contest technically can last two months. I covered the last leadership - the last Tory leadership contest in 2005 between David Cameron and David Davis, it lasted two months because you have to go out to the country.

So we don't have time now for all of that, and at the same time, we certainly don't have time for another general election in this phase between now and the end of March because a general election could produce one hung Parliament or two, a government of exactly the kind we've had up until now, which is one which is totally divided on Brexit.

So we don't want leadership contest. We don't want a general election. We want a defined ending. It's either May's deal, no deal, God forbid or stay. I think those are the three which I think are rationale.

[05:20:07]

FOSTER: And also to have a very clear position when she goes into Parliament today. She can be tough because of the secret weapon, is that there might be a general election which wouldn't be good for anyone.

DOS SANTOS: She can, but the other thing also is that - the two main parties here are seeing their ideologies being completely rewritten and their make ups and the nature of the conservative versus the Labour Party relationship being completely rewritten here. In fact, you hear time and time again, in particular remain Labour MPs, with other MPs from the Conservative Party saying it will be now be up to Parliament to show leadership not the Conservative Party. That's an interesting dynamic that we haven't heard in quite some time.

BLITZ: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, I think a lot of people are saying Parliament does have to show leadership and that maybe what happens in the next phase.

FOSTER: In terms of what you're looking for in the speech today, obviously, you followed her speeches very closely and she dose rise to the occasion usually, doesn't she? Particularly when she is under a huge amount of pressure, there have been some famous moments when she didn't perform particularly well, but she's always strong and she reacts pretty well in these situations, doesn't she?

BLITZ: Yes, sorry, yes, but this is certainly the toughest of all the challenges. Today is absolutely the hardest day of the lot because she has the deal and she has got back benchers who are going to be giving her a very hard time.

FOSTER: There she is, Theresa May is getting in the car. She's heading our way. She's only a few minutes away from Parliament and then she has to get through the building and get into the chamber where she will deliver her speech.

What do we think? About an hour or longer? Her speech?

DOS SANTOS: Who knows? But an hour is scheduled, isn't it? But I think they've already come out with a statement saying it may well be longer than that. Hopefully, it's not five hours like the Cabinet meeting, but who knows.

BLITZ: Speaking in this issues gives a lot of time for questions these days, so it can go on quite a while.

FOSTER: And presumably, business in the chamber has been cleared for this today.

BLITZ: Yes, I mean, there's no other show in town to use a rather bad phrase, but I mean that is the situation. I mean, I think it's going to be tough for her because you know, she's got to present the deal and she's going to have a lot of her back benchers coming up really strongly against it and there are these problems that she has in the text to emerge.

One of them is, there is no water tight exit mechanism for the UK for to get out of this all UK customs arrangement. That's problem number one. We don't have a unilateral ability to lever, that's the first problem.

And the second problem is the arrangement on the all UK customs arrangement does really leave Northern Ireland inside the EU to a very considerable degree and so, the customs union and the single market to a degree that we are not and that's going to be quite a hard line to defend.

FOSTER: Okay, James, thank you very much indeed. Also to Nina. We're expecting to hear from the Prime Minister in the next 10 minutes or so. We'll bring it to you live. We'll be back though in just a moment for some more analysis of what to expect.

[05:25:00]

FOSTER: With two of her Cabinet ministers resigning in the last couple of hours, Theresa May is facing arguably the speech of her career. She is about to come here to Parliament to try to sell her outlined deal and present it. She presented to Cabinet yesterday and then ultimately has to get through the Parliament, but it seems to have upset remainers as much as leavers, and that's why we saw Dominic Raab going and also Esther McVey who are key members of her team.

I am joined by Gina Miller. She is a businesswoman who is very involved in the whole Brexit today because you're the one that brought that initial case, didn't you, against the government? And you've become a very influential voice within this debate. When it came to Dominic Raab's resignation, we're hearing from earlier from James Blitz, he's a very big name in journalism here. He was saying he was surprised by it. Were you surprised by it?

GINA MILLER, ANTI-BREXIT CAMPAIGNER: I would say, no. None of this is surprising me because it was always going to be an impossible task to execute Brexit along the May's redlines. The fact that Dominic Raab has actually resigned this morning, to me it's like someone marking their own homework and failing themselves.

I mean, he has been involved in this process and to leave it so late in the day because the Ministers will now go back to them, as you say, rightly because of my case. So, they should be very happy they've got the opportunity, but I still don't see how we get through Parliament. And now, I think the realities that we are facing is this has to go back to the people and I don't think it should be --

FOSTER: A second referendum.

MILLER: Yes, not through an election because the problem with an election, it would be a waste to go back to the British people when we are so - one issue election is really not what we should be doing and actually, Labour have not a good record on Brexit. They have been sitting on the fence. They have not been listening to the British people. Because the British people poll after poll are saying we want another say.

FOSTER: But you're saying a referendum before March?

MILLER: I think now, there has to be either a request to the EU to either stop the clock on Article 50 or extend it. We cannot get out of where we are now. We are heading towards constitutional crisis, political crisis. Nobody knows what happens next.

You've got MPs now, Penny Mordaunt this morning talking about a free vote in Parliament. You've got Anna Soubry talking about a national government which we haven't had since 1948. We are in very unknown waters, and how we can allow that clock to tick when we have all of this uncertainty.

FOSTER: I should go to Hadas Gold because she is looking at the markets today. Hadas, we need to keep across this because the pound is really suffering today as a result of Dominic Raab's resignation, right?

HADAS GOLD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right, I mean, just as we speak, the pound has fallen 1.8%. This is one of the sharpest falls honestly in 17 months for the British pound and it just goes to show as we're just talking about how much investors and the business community, all they want is clarity, all they want is certainty and that's clearly not what they're getting today.

They are getting all of this political uncertainty, the possibility that there is going to be a hard Brexit, the possibility of Theresa May leaving all of these Cabinet ministers resigning. This is the last thing the business community wants and you're seeing that reflected in how the pound is reacting today, and it's just not looking good because if they are afraid of that hard Brexit, it would trade barriers, disruptions to supply chains, medicines, manufactured goods - just a shock to the broader economy.

And so what we're watching right now is clearly the business community would rather have just - the big people that I talk to in the business community, all they want is clarity. All they want is just an idea of what is actually happening and clearly right now, we have no idea what is happening.

FOSTER: Okay, Hadas, thank you. Business community leaders you're speaking to saying the same thing?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, more or less, but what's interesting is that after Theresa May had her marathon cabinet meeting, her Chancellor, Phillip Hammond apparently had a conference call with key leaders of businesses trying to reassure them. And again, there seem to be some divergence in views between Number 10 Downing Street and Number 11 Downing Street, so the Prime Minister and her Chancellor about how much of the Chequers agreement is going to be stuck to.

The business community is essentially saying, well, we want clarity about everything, but that doesn't necessarily for the politicians who are against this deal mean that we have to sacrifice the legislation for it and the future. MILLER: As a business person, I have to say the things that are

missing in this agreement are astonishing. I mean, there is no agreement on road transport, there is no agreement on sanitary or agriculture. There is so little in this agreement ...

FOSTER: But in 7,500 words, she addresses just in time for example which is one of the big concerns of business.

MILLER: Yes, but it doesn't say anything financial services, it doesn't really say anything about services at all, which is 80% of our economy. What I find extraordinary is that these 500 to 600 pages undo 45 years, but it's going to be a legally binding document. It just cannot get through Parliament.

[05:30:02]

FOSTER: We're waiting for Theresa May to address Parliament, a key moment in her career. Perhaps, the moment, would you say, Nina?

DOS SANTOS: Oh who knows? You've covered politics longer than I have, Max.

FOSTER: So far.

DOS SANTOS: So far, but she's garnered a lot of respect from people on both sides of the House, even the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a political beast in this country who is obviously Labour, so that he has respected the way how she has tried to handle this. You have to acknowledge the fact that she is doing a terribly difficult job at a terribly difficult time with a very divided party and an opposition that as Gina made clear, hasn't clarified its stance on this most divisive of issues of the country.

But either, the big question that lawmakers in this country have to answer is, is it worth signing the dotted line.

FOSTER: Let's to go the chamber.

[05:30:00]

(HOUSE OF COMMONS COVERAGE)

[06:00:00]