As the Tory leader fights for her political career, Express.co.uk is asking you if you agree with Mrs May’s plan, which she says is in the “national interest”? Or do you think the Prime Minister has broken promises and ultimately left the UK at the mercy of Brussels? The under-pressure Prime Minister cleared the first hurdle when Cabinet ministers finally approved the draft terms of her agreement with Brussels after a marathon five-hour meeting, which stretched on far beyond its expected time. Reports suggested as many as a third of the 28 ministers attending voiced doubts about the draft agreement drawn up by UK and EU negotiators after 19 months of talks in Brussels.
Brexit news: Theresa May is under pressure over her Brexit deal
But she now faces a battle to get it through Parliament as furious pro-Leave Conservative MPs, as well as Remainers, line up to rebel in condemnation over her plans.
Speaking to the Commons yesterday morning following a raft of cabinet and ministerial resignations, Mrs May said that the draft treaty agreed by Cabinet on Wednesday was not a final agreement, but brings the UK “close to a Brexit deal”.
There was laughter as she said that it would allow the UK to leave “in a smooth and orderly way” on March 29 as the Prime Minister outlined the deal to MPs.
READ MORE: Brexit deal live
Brexit news: Theresa May speaks in Cabinet on Thursday morning
Theresa May unveiled her 585-page Brexit deal on Wednesday which was finally backed by her Cabinet
She said: “It takes back control of our borders, laws and money. It protects jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom, and it delivers in ways that many said could simply not be done.”
“We were told we had a binary choice between the model of Norway and the model of Canada, that we could not have a bespoke deal.
“But the outline political declaration sets out an arrangement that is better for our country than both of these – a more ambitious free trade agreement than the EU has with any other country.
READ MORE: Inside Theresa May’s 585-page Brexit deal
Brexit news: Theresa May’s Cabinet backed her Brexit deal
“We were told we would be treated like any other third country on security co-operation.
“But the outline political declaration sets out a breadth and depth of co-operation beyond anything the EU has agreed with any other country.”
Mrs May faced her first ministerial resignation yesterday morning when Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara announced he was quitting in protest at the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan.
Just minutes later her own Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab announced he was stepping down, followed by Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Brexit minister Suella Braverman and Educations minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Addressing MPs, Mrs May appeared to pay tribute to Mr Raab and Ms McVey.
She said: “Delivering Brexit involves difficult choices for all of us. We do not agree on all those choices, but I respect their views.”
It comes after the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street last night and warned MPs that if they failed to back it in Parliament, the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal or not leave at all.
Offering the nation an ultimatum, Theresa May said: “The choice before us is clear – this deal, which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our Union; or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all.”
Brexit news: Dominic Raab has resigned over May’s Brexit deal
Following the release of the 585-page agreement document, prominent Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg – the leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) – wrote to all Tory MPs urging them to vote against it.
The ERG, led by Mr Rees-Mogg, claims it has 80 MPs ready to vote against what it sees as Mrs May’s capitulation to Brussels.
Mr Rees-Mogg yesterday directly raised the spectre of a leadership challenge to Mrs May during a Commons debate.
The leading Brexiteer highlighted areas of the deal where he said the “honourable” Prime Minister had reneged on promises over leaving the customs union, maintaining the internal integrity of the UK and leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
He told MPs: “As what my right honourable friend says and what my right honourable friend does no longer match, should I not write to my right honourable friend the member for Altrincham and Sale West?”
This was a reference to Sir Graham Brady MP, the chairman of the Tory 1922 committee, to whom MPs must write to express no confidence in a leader in order to trigger a challenge.
Meanwhile, rumours have continued to swirl at Westminster that the tally of Conservative MPs who have submitted letters of no confidence in Mrs May is about to reach the 48 threshold needed to trigger a vote on her position.
Sources said the delivery of letters to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady was “imminent”, with a total of 48 needed to trigger a vote on the Tory leader’s position.
Brexit news: EU leaders will agree the Brexit plan on the 25 November
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street minutes after the crunch Cabinet meeting concluded, Mrs May acknowledged she faced “difficult days ahead” as she prepares to seek the backing of the House of Commons in what is expected to be the toughest vote of her parliamentary career.
She said: “I firmly believe, with my head and my heart, that this is a decision which is in the best interests of the United Kingdom.
But with Mrs May’s Cabinet giving the green light to Britain’s Brexit blueprint, it clears the way for the special Brexit summit in Brussels for EU leaders to approve the deal later this month.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement that “decisive progress” had been made, clearing the way for a special summit for leaders of the remaining 27 EU states to rubber stamp plans.
Brexit news: Theresa May faces the fiercest battle of her political career
The European Council will hold an extraordinary summit in Brussels on November 25 to finalise the UK’s withdrawal agreement, council president Donald Tusk confirmed.
This is when leaders of the remaining 27 EU states will be asked to put their stamp on the document and the agreement will then be sent for ratification to both the Westminster Parliament and the European Parliament.
The British Government would hope to stage a vote in the House of Commons before Christmas, and if every obstacle is cleared, the deal would come into effect in time for the UK’s departure on March 29 2019.
It is expected the debate will stretch over several days and will end in a meaningful vote, possibly in early December, before the next scheduled European Council summit on December 13.