British Work and Pensions Secretary resigns, quits Conservative party

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British Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd. (Photo: Agencies)

LONDON, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- British Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd resigned on Saturday and quit the Conservative party, dealing one more blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is fighting an uphill battle to keep his Brexit plan intact despite strong criticism from his own party, opposition and the parliament.

In announcing her resignation, Rudd said she cannot "stand by" while "loyal moderate Conservatives are expelled" for defying Johnson's government over Brexit.

Rudd, who said her resignation had been "a difficult decision," described the sacking of 21 Tory MPs on Tuesday for rebelling in the parliamentary vote on Brexit as an "assault on decency and democracy."

Over the past days, the prime minister suffered several defeat in parliament as MPs voted to reject his bid for an early election, and passed a bill designed to block a no-deal Brexit.

A bill requiring the prime minister to ask for an extension to Brexit to avoid a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 is set to gain royal assent.

In her resignation letter to the prime minister, Rudd said, "I joined your cabinet in good faith: accepting that 'No Deal' had to be on the table, because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on 31 October."

"However I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government's main objective," she added.

The resignation was announced as MPs, including Tories expelled from the party, are preparing legal action in case the prime minister refuses to seek a delay to Brexit.

Johnson said that he would "rather be dead in the ditch" than ask the European Union (EU) for "another pointless delay" of the UK departure from the regional bloc.

He vowed to take his country out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.

During the past week, the prime minister also saw his younger brother, Jo Johnson, resign from government.

Johnson's decision to prorogue -- suspend -- parliament next week ahead of a Queen's Speech on Oct. 14 is also being challenged in the courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.