Sterling hammered by Jo Johnson resignation

Minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union leaves Downing Street in central London

The unnamed pro-Brexit ministers have briefed May on their alternative plan, the newspaper reported, without citing sources. "We know a General Election is their first choice, question becomes what is their second choice - exit or referendum".

The Sunday Times said four Remain-leaning ministers were on the brink of quitting, while the Telegraph said politicians would fall like "paper tigers".

The shadow foreign secretary reiterated that Labour would not back Theresa May's deal unless it passed the party's six tests, underlining once again how the challenge of getting her Brexit agreement through parliament - including past her own backbenchers - could be May's biggest of all.

But if parliament rejects the Brexit deal the Prime Minister is now finalising, a second referendum - the "people's vote" - may prove the only way of resolving the unprecedented political and constitutional crisis.

A Downing Street source said the government aimed to secure an agreement with the European Union soon, but not at any cost. There are several sticking points, however, most notably the status of the border between Northern Ireland, a United Kingdom territory, and the Republic of Ireland.

The country would then be able to negotiate with Brussels as a "third country" for two years, making it easier to agree on a new free trade deal and avoid having to pay the full 38 billion pounds ($49 billion) divorce bill. "It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016".

But in a pointed message to his brother and other Brexiteers, he said: "Inflicting such serious economic and political harm on the country will leave an indelible impression of incompetence in the minds of the public".

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"Now is the time for people to stand up for what they believe in or we will sleepwalk to a #Brexit disaster".

But, like Corbyn, May's MPs appeared to rally around her, with both Tom Tugendhat and defence minister Tobias Ellwood arguing against speculation on the Brexit deal.

Jo Johnson's resignation, and his call for a fresh referendum to test voter sentiment, further complicates matters for May as she tries to strike a deal with European Union leaders that would pass muster with her own cabinet and win backing in Parliament.

It added: "The prime minister thanks Jo Johnson for his work in government".

Mr Johnson, who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum and is the brother of Boris Johnson, stunned colleagues by walking out of government while Mrs May's plan was still being finalised.

Unless the government and the European Union intentionally change course, Brexit will happen by force of law on March 29 next year, with or without a deal.

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