LONDON, UK - Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has dropped a bombshell on the UK government by resigning from Prime Minister Theresa Mays cabinet just as ministers approved a withdrawal deal with the European Union.
Raab said he was quitting because he "cannot in good conscience support" the deal.
In a second bombshell, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman also threw in the towel.
The mass resignations on Thursday followed a late night approval overnight of a plan to see Britain exit the EU.
May has pressed on, telling the House of Commons the deal is as close as can be achieved on "the Brexit the British people voted for."
Mr Raab who voted to leave the EU was elevated to cabinet in place of David Davis after he quit in protest at Mrs May's Brexit plans, now he has followed suit.
Curiously, Raab was very involved in drafting the 585-page document, which has been agreed by the cabinet and the EU negotiators.
Mr Raab, in stepping down, said he could not support the agreement he helped draft because the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland "presents a very real threat to the integrity of the UK".
He said too the "backstop" arrangements would would prevent a hard Irish border would result in the European Union "holding a veto over our ability to exit."
"Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election," Raab said in his resignation letter to May.
Esther McVey said she was bailing out on May because the agreement does not "honour the result of the referendum, indeed it does not meet the tests you set from the outset of your premiership".
"We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal to any deal is better than no deal," she said.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a ministerial aide at the education department, tendered her resignation as well.
Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara was first out the door on Thursday morning saying, (the deal) "leaves the UK in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation."
Conservative Brexiteer MP Anne Marie Morris began fanning the flames on Thursday, proposing the prime minister should be replaced. The BBC quoted her as saying she believed the leadership of the government should be up for grabs.
"Now is not the time for her leadership," she said.
Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said, "It is now clear the prime minister didn't have the backing of her cabinet."
The major sticking point, and the main cause of concern among those opposing the Irish border is the backstop.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC, MPs should back the plan because the alternatives of a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum were "ugly."
Anybody in any compromise negotiated document can pick out individual parts that they would prefer were written differently" but a vote for the deal was nonetheless in the national interest, he told the British broadcaster.
The British pound tumbled as news of the resignations emerged.