EU leaders have officially given their support to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, greenlighting the process for the prime minister to attempt to win parliamentary support.
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At Sunday’s summit in Brussels, the 27 EU leaders came together in a meeting, in which it is believed to have taken less than an hour for the heads of state to give their unanimous support to the deal, taking a step towards ending Britain’s 45-year-long membership of the European Union.
After the meeting, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that the agreement was the “best possible deal for Britain”, before adding he felt “deep sadness” towards Britain’s departure from the EU.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, broke the news of the agreement of twitter:
EU27 has endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) November 25, 2018
Theresa May addressed reporters after the Brussels summit, saying the British people “don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit.”
Speaking after the meeting, May said:
“Today marks the culmination of our negotiations with the EU, but it also marks the start of a crucial national debate in our country over the next few weeks. Before christmas, MPs will vote on this deal. It will be one of the most significant votes that parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together, to a brighter future, or open the door to yet more division and uncertainty. The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit. They want a good deal done that fulfills the vote, and allows us to come together again as a country. So I will take this deal back to the House of Commons, confident we have achieved the best deal available, and full of optimism about the future of our country. In parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart, and I look forward to that campaign.”
Now that the deal has been approved by EU leaders, Theresa May will bring it back to parliament, where MPs will vote in favour of or against the agreement that has been reached.
Since the original announcement of the withdrawal agreement earlier this month, the prime minister has faced opposition to the deal from all sides, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that props up her government, providing perhaps the biggest threat to the deal.
DUP leader Arlene Foster once again voiced her party’s opposition to the deal on Sunday, telling BBC’s Andrew Marr: “This deal does not allow us to take back control,”
Foster said that her party would wait to see what happened next before deciding whether to remove their support from Theresa May, adding: “We have to look to a better way, a third way.”
In addition to concerns from her party, and opposition parties in the Commons, Theresa May still faces the possibility of a vote of no-confidence from her MPs. However, it is not clear how many letters of no-confidence have been submitted to chairman Graham Brady, with 48 needed to officially begin a vote of confidence.