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  1. ITV Report

Ministers who abstained from no-deal Brexit vote 'should not resign' says MP Sarah Newton after stepping down

An MP who resigned after abstaining from Wednesday night's vote on a no-deal Brexit has told ITV News other ministers who defied the party whip should not have to step down.

Within moments of the result that saw Parliamentarians vote 321 to 278 to rule out the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal at any time, Sarah Newton resigned as a minister at the Department for Work and Pensions - saying she wanted to honour her commitment to her constituents "to leave the EU with 'a deal'."

Following the vote, a Downing Street source said ministers who voted against the government would be expected to resign, but did not clarify what would happen to those who abstained.

On Thursday, Ms Newton told ITV News the "country needed" the "expertise" of the abstaining ministers.

"I don't think any of the ministers that abstained last night should resign," she said.

"We're at a key moment in our country's history.

Amber Rudd abstained from the no-deal Brexit vote. Credit: PA

"We need their skill, their passion, their commitment, their experience to get us through the very challenging few weeks that lie ahead, to make sure the legislation's ready, that we have all the deals in place with our colleagues in the European Union.

"These are very experienced minister and we need them in the cabinet supporting the prime minister."

Among those who abstained were Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Other ministers who abstained included Robert Buckland, Alistair Burt, Tobias Ellwood, Richard Harrington, Margot James, Anne Milton, Stephen Hammond and Claire Perry.

Trade secretary, Liam Fox, a prominent Leave voter who has backed Theresa May's deal, told ITV News that MPs had a duty of "collective responsibility" to support the prime minister's deal.

He said: "I have no intention of criticising colleagues, but I have always accepted myself that collective responsibility is the price that you pay for the privilege of being in the government.

Many of us on the Leave side of the referendum campaign have made an number of compromises to be able to support the prime minister's deal.

"I hope that as we go into the next phase, that everyone recognises that we all have a duty to fulfill that collective responsibility.""