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Sunday, December 02, 2018, 11:51
May presses on with Brexit plan after another minister quits
By Associated Press
Sunday, December 02, 2018, 11:51 By Associated Press

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (not in frame) at the G20 Leader's Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 1, 2018. (MARCOS BRINDICCI / POOL / AP)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday she was determined to win lawmakers' backing for her Brexit deal, after a minister who quit her government said her divorce agreement would leave Britain outnumbered and outmaneuvered in future negotiations with the European Union.

Ex-Universities and Science Minister Sam Gyimah likened the deal to playing soccer against opponents who "are the referee and they make the rules as well."

Ex-Universities and Science Minister Sam Gyima is the seventh member of May's Conservative government to quit over the Brexit deal

May is battling to persuade British lawmakers to back the Brexit agreement when Parliament votes on Dec 11. She and EU leaders say rejecting the divorce terms, which were endorsed by the EU last weekend, would leave the UK facing a messy, economically damaging "no-deal" Brexit on March 29.

ALSO READ: UK's May fights to sell Brexit deal to a skeptical country

But many British lawmakers on both sides of the Brexit debate oppose the deal — Brexiteers because it keeps Britain bound closely to the EU, and pro-EU politicians because it erects barriers between the UK and its biggest trading partner.

May, attending a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, said the message she was getting from other world leaders was the importance of "certainty" about the Brexit path.

She said at a news conference that "passing this deal ... will take us to certainty for the future, and that failure to do that would only lead to uncertainty."

The two-part agreement includes the legally binding terms of the UK's departure and an ambitious but vague declaration about future relations between the two sides.

Gyimah, who backed remaining in the EU during Britain's 2016 referendum, said the agreement was "a deal in name only."

"We've got a wish-list of aspirations that we intend to negotiate with the EU (after) we've lost our voice, our veto and our vote," he told Sky News.

Gyimah is the seventh member of May's Conservative government to quit over the Brexit deal. His resignation came after May said Britain was abandoning efforts to retain full access to the EU's Galileo satellite navigation system after Brexit.

In this July 26, 2018 photo, then-British Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (center) meets with Indian students who got scholarships in the UK, at the British Council in New Delhi. Gyimah quit British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government on Nov 30, becoming the seventh member of May's government to quit over the Brexit deal. (PRAKASH SINGH / AFP)

Britain has been a major player in developing the system, but the EU says only member states can work on developing the high-security encrypted parts of Galileo for use by the military and critical infrastructure sectors.

May said that "passing this deal ... will take us to certainty for the future, and that failure to do that would only lead to uncertainty"

May said, given the EU's decision "to bar the UK from being fully involved in developing all aspects of Galileo, it is only right that we find alternatives." She said Britain would develop its own sat-nav system, at an estimated cost of several billion pounds (dollars).

Gyimah said "what has happened with Galileo is a foretaste of the brutal negotiations we will go through that will weaken our national interest, make us poorer, less secure."

May has acknowledged the Brexit deal is not perfect, but says it delivers on voters' decision to leave the EU while retaining close ties with the bloc, a key trading partner and ally.

READ MORE: UK government says Brexit will make the country poorer

She got a vote of confidence Saturday from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who praised May's "leadership" in sealing the Brexit agreement. Speaking at the G20 summit, Abe urged May "to avoid no deal, as well as to ensure transparency, predictability as well as legal stability in the Brexit process."

Japanese automakers Honda and Nissan have warned that new tariffs or other trade barriers with the EU would damage their competitiveness of their British factories, which employ thousands of people.

May also received support from Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a key Brexit-backing minister, who wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper that lawmakers should back the deal rather than hold out for a "perfect plan."

"Does the deal deliver 100 percent of what I wanted? No. But then we didn't win 100 percent of the vote (in the referendum)," Gove wrote. "In politics, as in life, you can't always get everything that you want."

The Bank of England warned this week that leaving the EU without a divorce deal could plunge Britain into its deepest recession in nearly a century.

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