Sam Gyimah has resigned as Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation over Theresa May’s agreement with Brussels to leave the European Union (EU).
In a fresh new blow for Downing Street, the 42-year-old has come out in opposition to Theresa May’s proposed Brexit plan and has pledged to vote against the bill in Parliament on 11 December.
The MP for East Surrey has now become the seventh minister to quit Mrs May’s government over the deal agreed by all 27 EU member-states in November.
It is not currently known who will replace Gyimah in the role, although an appointment may be unlikely to happen until the Brexit vote later this month.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Gyimah states how the potential deal restrains Britain to abide to EU legislation and block rules, such as the economic ‘common rulebook’.
Gyimah writes: “In these protracted negotiations, our interests will be repeatedly and permanently hammered by the EU27 for many years to come. Britain will end up worse off, transformed from rule makers into rule takers.
“It has become increasingly clear to me that the proposed deal is not in the British national interest, and that to vote for this deal is to set ourselves up for failure. We will be losing, not taking control of our national destiny.”
Among his concerns was the protracted negotiations over Galileo and the EU’s satellite navigation system.
The government has said UK defence and security services would no longer participate after Brexit, but it also emerged that the country may never claw back its invested £1.2bn.
Gyimah said the prime minister was right to withdraw from the negotiation, which he proclaimed was “stacked against us from the very beginning”.
However, he added: “Galileo is only a foretaste of what’s to come under the government’s Brexit deal.”
He said: “There is a mountain to climb, and we are still in the foothills. Under the deal we will have only two, at most four, years to agree at least five times what has been settled to date.
“With so much left to negotiate, we must take a clear-eyed view on the strength of our position.” Gyimah said the EU had held the cards so far in the negotiations and time was not on the UK’s side. “All of this points to an off-the-shelf deal dictated by the EU that will be materially worse for my constituents in East Surrey than staying in.”
A remainer during the 2016 referendum, Gyimah has also come out in potential support for a second referendum on the divorce bill, something that the PM should not rule out, Gyimah insists.
His departure from the government has triggered an outflow of support from Tory backbenchers, including predecessor Jo Johnson who called his decision to leave “strong and principled”.