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British PM facing her own exit as ministers quit and criticism grows

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is battling to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest at an agreement they say will trap Britain in the bloc’s orbit for years.Just over 12 hours after May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab, and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.Their departure, the resignations of two junior ministers and reports others were considering quitting, shakes May’s divided government and her Brexit strategy, raising the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.Some politicians openly questioned whether May’s government could survive.It was a backstop arrangement, which could see Britain and the EU establish a single customs territory, that spurred most of the criticism. The backstop arrangement will come into force if a future trade deal does not prevent the return of a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.But the prime minister showed little sign of backing down. In parliament she warned politicians they now faced a stark decision.“The choice is clear. We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated,” she said. Her spokesman said May would fight any vote of confidence in her leadership and she intended to be prime minister when Britain leaves the bloc in March next year.In parliament, politicians from her Conservative Party and the opposition parties took turns to rubbish the draft agreement. Many criticized the deal, agreed with the EU on Tuesday, for making Britain a “vassal” state, beholden to the bloc’s rules even after leaving on March 29. EU leaders are ready to meet on November 25 to sign off on the divorce deal, or Withdrawal Agreement, but French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe summed up the uncertainty when he said events in London raised concerns about whether it would be ratified.“We need to prepare ourselves for a no-deal Brexit,” he said.Britain’s opposition Labour Party said the government was “falling apart.”“Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her Cabinet, let alone parliament and the people,” said Jon Trickett, a member of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team.Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party had threatened to pull its support from the minority government if the backstop meant the province was treated differently from the rest of mainland Britain.