Theresa May accused of 'playing roulette with British people' as three ministers quit over Brexit

Posted On: 
25th March 2019

A senior Tory has accused Theresa May of "playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods" of the British people as he quit as a minister.

Richard Harrington was a business minister.
Credit: 
PA Images

Richard Harrington was one of three members of the Government to resign their posts in order to vote in favour of a move to give Parliament control of the Brexit process.

The business minister was joined by Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and health minister Steve Brine in tendering their resignations to the Prime Minister.

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In a hard-hitting letter to Mrs May setting out his reasons, Mr Harrington said: "At this critical moment in our country's history, I regret that the Government's approach to Brexit is playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country who are employed by or otherwise depend on businesses for their livelihood."

He said he was quitting in order to do all he could to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Burt's resignation came just a day after he was one of a small number of Conservatives to be invited to Chequers to discuss the Brexit state of play with the Prime Minister.

The three men were among 30 Tory MPs who rebelled against the party whip in order to back Sir Oliver Letwin's amendment paving the way for a series of so-called "indicative votes" on the way ahead on Wednesday.

In another major embarrassment for Mrs May, the amendment passed by 329 votes to 302.

Mrs May had called on MPs not to back the move, spearheaded by Tory former Cabinet minister Sir Oliver Letin, arguing that she cannot have her hands tied by Parliament in her negotiations with the EU.

But, urging MPs to get behind the amemdment, Sir Oliver said: "The idea that it's an ancient constitutional principle that the Government should control the order paper is slightly anhistorical, if that's the right word, because it started in 1906, which as far as I'm aware is not part of our ancient constitution."

He said his amendment "provides an opportunity for the House of Commons to begin the process of working its way towards identifying a way forward that commands a majority in this House".