“Dear Prime Minister,
There is no more important task for this Government than delivering on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. This is a matter of trust. It is about the future of our country and the integrity of our democracy.
The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the referendum. Indeed, it doesn’t meet the tests you set at the outset of your premiership.
Repeatedly you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders, and our laws, and develop our own independent trade policy. I have always supported you to deliver on those objectives. Even after Chequers when you knew I shared the concerns of a very significant number of colleagues, I believed that we could still work collectively to honour the will of the British people and secure the right outcome for the future of our country. This deal fails to do this.
The proposals put before Cabinet, which will soon be judged by the entire country, means handing over around £39 billion to the EU without anything in return. It will trap us in a customs union, despite you specifically promising the British people we would not be. It will bind the hands of not only this, but future Governments in pursuing genuinely free trade policies. We wouldn’t be taking back control, we would be handing over control to the EU and even to a third country for arbitration.
It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, which as a Unionist is a risk I cannot be party to.
The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the result of the referendum when it is so obvious to everyone it doesn’t.
We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.
I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign from the Government.
It has been a huge honour to serve as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, and I am immensely proud of the part I have played in the record levels of employment we have seen in all parts of the UK. Youth unemployment has halved since 2010, and we now have record number of women and BAME in work and since 2013, 972,000 more disabled people in work.
With employment over 3.3 million more than in 2010 we have helped 1,000 more people into work each and every day since we took office.
I am extremely grateful to you for appointing me to the role, and for the support you have given me, not least in the run up to the budget, ensuring Universal Credit got a much-needed injection of £4.5 billion. That has made my decision a greater wrench.
However, in politics you have to be true to the public and also true to yourself. Had I stayed in the Government and supported this deal with the EU I wouldn’t be doing that.