UK and EU negotiators have reached an agreement on a draft version of the EU withdrawal agreement, laying out the terms for Britain leaving the EU in March 2019.
Update – 2pm: Theresa May’s cabinet is now meeting to discuss the withdrawal agreement text.
Update – 5.42pm: The cabinet meeting is now expected to conclude as late as 7pm, two hours after it was originally scheduled to end.
Update – 6.29pm: May has cancelled plans to hold a press conference later tonight after the cabinet meeting. Instead, she will give a statement to broadcasters, which should contain details of what occured at today’s cabinet meeting.
Update – 8.00pm: Theresa May has won the backing of her cabinet for the Brexit withdrawal agreement, after a five-hour crunch meeting this afternoon. – See full story.
Theresa May’s cabinet were called in to be briefed on a draft of the withdrawal text on Tuesday afternoon, which is thought to involve a customs union remaining between the UK and the EU, along with details regarding the Irish border backstop.
The cabinet are now due to gather in a special meeting on Wednesday in order to agree on a final Brexit deal.
A No 10 spokesman said on Tuesday: “Cabinet will meet at 2pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps.”
Sterling rose to its highest level against the Euro in six months following the news.
Some business sources are also readying themselves be briefed on terms of the agreement:
Source – Business groups expecting to be briefed on brexit tomorrow
— Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) November 13, 2018
Cabinet will gather in a special meeting at 2pm on Wednesday in order to agree on a final Brexit deal. Ministers will either support or oppose what has been agreed by negotiators, with the possibility of resignations from those who opposed the text.
The news of a breakthrough came just hours before a deadline set by the government, which they said if missed would remove the possibility of a November summit to discuss the final deal.
We’re updating you with the latest updates on this story here and on Twitter.
It is now believed the legal document outlining Brexit terms could reach 500 pages, which MPs from both sides of Parliament are sure to pour over in the coming days, scrutinising the text for any points of contention.
Pro-Brexit ministers insist that the agreement must allow the UK to be able to unilaterally exit a customs arrangement, and not be tied into any customs union after the UK leaves the EU. It is yet unclear whether ministers have intial issues with what has been agreed to thus far.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the news, saying the agreement was “unlikely to be a good deal for the country.”
Corbyn said in a statement: “We will look at the details of what has been agreed when they are available. But from what we know of the shambolic handling of these negotiations, this is unlikely to be a good deal for the country. Labour has been clear from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy – and that guarantees standards and protections. If this deal doesn’t meet our six tests and work for the whole country, then we will vote against it.”
Jacob Rees Mogg, the MP and leader of the European Research Group, responding to the news, saying: “This is the vassal state, it is a failure of the government’s negotiating position.”
Boris Johnson said the following in response to the news:
“This has been ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ for some months. We are going to stay in the customs union, we are going to stay in large parts of the single market. It’s vassal state stuff as for the first time in 1,000 years this parliament will not have a say over the laws that govern this country. It is utterly unacceptable to anybody who believes in democracy … For the first time since partition, Dublin would have more say in some aspects of the governing of Northern Ireland than London. So I don’t see how you can support from a democratic point of view.”
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable issued the following statement:
“Any Brexit deal will leave the UK weakened and the public poorer. And before the ink is dry, the Conservative party will tear into what little Theresa May has been able to agree. The prime minister now faces a defeat in Parliament, as a majority will be hard or impossible to secure for what she has come up with. A People’s Vote is now the only way to escape from this mess.”
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called upon her colleagues to “get better options back on the table” in the event that the deal gets voted down in Parliament:
If the PM’s ‘deal’ satisfies no-one and can’t command a majority, we mustn’t fall for her spin that the UK crashing out of EU without a deal is then inevitable – instead we should take the opportunity to get better options back on the table.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 13, 2018
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