Man no-one has heard of quits job no-one knew he had

Shailesh Vara, obviously

Theresa May was dealt a blow this morning as a junior minister no-one had ever heard of quit a job no-one knew he had in the first place in protest at her Brexit deal.

Shailesh Vara quit as Northern Ireland minister, saying he could not support May's Brexit agreement, which he said "leaves the UK in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation".

Vara, the Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire, was promoted to his government post in July, having previously been a parliamentary private secretary in the Northern Ireland Office.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he said: "We are a proud nation and it is a say day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart.

"We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better."

With much sadness and regret I have submitted my letter of resignation as a Northern Ireland Minister to the Prime Minister. A copy of my letter is attached. It has been a joy and privilege to serve in the Northern Ireland Office and I will always cherish the fondest memories.

-- Shailesh Vara MP (@ShaileshVara) November 15, 2018

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In 2001 Vara was described as a "future Conservative Party leader" by Lord Alexander of Weedon and has since played the long game.

His resignation came as European Council president Donald Tusk announced an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on November 25, at which the withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on future relations will be finalised and formalised.

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Vara's departure comes amid a furious backlash from Brexit-backing Tories to the deal agreed by UK and EU negotiators four months ahead of the UK's scheduled withdrawal on March 29.

Westminster was braced for further resignations, amid widespread expectations that the prime minister may face a challenge to her position from Conservative MPs submitting letters of no confidence in her leadership.

The prime minister cleared the first hurdle when Cabinet ministers finally approved the draft terms of her agreement with Brussels at a stormy five-hour meeting yesterday.

But she now faces a battle to get it through Parliament as pro-Leave Conservative MPs - as well as some Remainers - lined up to condemn the plan, accusing her of breaking promises.

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