Banks and housebuilders fall sharply as Raab resigns over Brexit deal

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Ester McVey, the secretary of state for work and pensions, has resigned from her post in protest at May's Brexit plan.

Just a day after declaring her cabinet united behind her in pursuing a new Brexit plan, UK prime minister Theresa May stands on the brink of political oblivion.

Late Thursday, May announced she would hold another press conference this evening - with speculation she would have to address the growing rebellion against both the deal and her prime ministership, or even call a snap general election.

Ms Trevelyan wrote Thursday morning: "I can not agree to a deal in which my country will have its unique innovative spirit crushed by removing the great opportunity of competitive advantage for decades ahead".

U.S. comedian Rob Delaney provided his followers with a disturbing mental image, comparing the Prime Minister's current situation to a "festival toilet on wheels". While she claimed yesterday that she had won the support of Cabinet, at least 10 senior ministers were known to retain deep reservations over her draft exit plan.

This is a developing story. Mrs May would probably have to resign and Britain could stumble into a hard Brexit, which would create chaos at the ports of the English Channel in March next year when, under European Union treaties, Brexit must take place. Even if the deal passes with a narrow majority, the country will still be bitterly split between those who accept this muddling compromise, the little Englanders who demand a diamond-hard Brexit and the roughly 50 per cent of voters who wish this could all turn out to be a bad dream and Britain could just stay in the EU.

In the meantime, the European Union was quick to show that it is ready to seal the deal.

On the issue of the border in Ireland, May said the withdrawal agreement has set out an insurance policy should a permanent new UK-EU relationship not be ready by the time the implementation period ends at the end of 2019.

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May argued that her proposal on the withdrawal agreement was the best deal Britain could hope to get, warning that the only alternatives were risking leaving without a deal, or no Brexit at all.

"The decision to go forward on the basis that we have overall was not an easy one".

The deal requires the consent of the European Parliament, whose chief Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt, welcomed it as "the best agreement we could obtain".

This has some parallels to the Nancy Pelosi leadership fight in the US.

Prospects for approval for May's draft agreement look slim - and chances it will come to a vote at all are less than solid, too. May's allies in the Democratic Unionist Party and opposition parties.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said his party would vote against the proposed agreement.

"On both sides, we have exhausted our margin of manoeuvre", an official said, adding: "We think it is the best we can we can do with the constraints we have on both sides".

May had been preparing to sell her Brexit deal to parliament, boosted by news that Europe is preparing a rapid summit to sign off on the agreement.