Tory vice-chairs quit over Chequers Brexit agreement in fresh blow for Theresa May
Two vice-chairs of the Conservative Party have resigned over Theresa May's handling of Brexit.
Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley said they were unhappy with the agreement reached by the Cabinet at Chequers last Friday.
In a co-ordinated attack on the Prime Minister, both MPs - who were only appointed to their party roles in January - published their resignation letters at the same time.
Their departures follow the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, along with junior minister Steve Baker and parliamentary aides Chris Green and Conor Burns on Monday.
They were opposed to the Chequers deal's attempts to maintain close trading links with the EU by agreeing a "common rule book" on regulations and entering into a free trade area for goods.
In her letter to Mrs May, Ms Caulfield, who was the Tory vice-chair for women, said: "I cannot support the direction of travel in the Brexit negotiations which, in my view, do not fully embrace the opportunities that Brexit can provide."
The Lewes MP said she was particularly unhappy over the Government's agreement to a backstop proposal guaranteeing that no hard border will return in Ireland if there is no Brexit deal.
She said: "The policy may assuage vested interests but the voters will find out and their representatives will be found out. This policy will be bad for our country and ban for the party.
"The direct consequences of that will be Prime Minister Corbyn."
Mr Bradley, who was responsible for re-connecting the Tories with young voters, also said that the Government's current Brexit policy will end up "handing the keys of Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn".
He added: "I was elected last year on the back of a campaign that focused on your leadership and on delivering Brexit. I hope that under your continued leadership we can make the necessary changes to these proposals and fulfil the promise we made to the electorate."
The Mansfield MP has seen his fair share of controversy since taking on his senior party role.
He had to apologise in January after it emerged that he had once written a blogpost suggesting the unemployed should have vasectomies to stop them having more children.
And the following month he agreed to make a "substantial" donation to charity over a tweet in which he accused Jeremy Corbyn of selling secrets to Communist spies.
A Labour source said: "With just weeks to go to negotiate Brexit, NHS waiting lists growing and pay packets being squeezed, the Conservative Party continues to tear itself apart. Something has got to give."