Brexit deal: Cabinet to discuss draft agreement

Brexit deal: Cabinet to discuss draft agreement

British and European Union negotiators have reached a framework Brexit agreement that will be examined by the United Kingdom cabinet at an emergency meeting Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May's office said.

The British Cabinet will meet at 1400 GMT on Wednesday (10pm Singapore time) to consider the draft withdrawal agreement, a Downing Street spokesman said after Irish and British media were leaked details of the agreement on the text.

But the agreement faces major political hurdles starting Wednesday, when British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to win the approval of her divided Cabinet for a deal many ministers view with skepticism.

If a deal is agreed with the EU, May then needs to persuade her party - and the rest of Parliament - to support it in a key Commons vote.

Both the United Kingdom and EU want to schedule a special summit of European leaders at the end of November to sign off the reportedly 500-page withdrawal deal and the much shorter outline declaration of their future relationship.

Asked what Eurosceptics' red line for resigning was, the broad reply came: "It being a Brexit that we can not control".

The Irish government has dismissed reports of a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations as "speculation".

But May faces pressure from pro-Brexit Cabinet members and lawmakers not to agree to an arrangement that binds Britain to European Union trade rules indefinitely.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab reportedly belongs to a handful of Cabinet Brexiteers who are prepared to resign from the government if the Brexit withdrawal agreement doesn't meet their demands.

The final sticking points were believed to have been the situation around the Irish border, and the so-called backstop - the arrangement created to confront the prospect of no deal being struck.

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An emergency cabinet meeting will be held this afternoon at 2pm, which sources have said is expected to last three hours.

It reported that the deal included a UK-wide customs arrangement as well as special arrangements for Northern Ireland.

"For the first time since partition, Dublin would have more say in some aspects of the governing of Northern Ireland than London", he said.

Earlier, Ms Mordaunt told Sky News: "The important thing is that there are two checks on this deal - there is Cabinet and there is Parliament".

Opposition from both sides of the Brexit divide means May could struggle to get a deal approved by Parliament.

As pressure ratchets up on Mrs May, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is said to be spearheading a group of ministers warning that crashing out of the European Union is better than caving into the bloc's demands.

"We are now at the end of the road, we can't keep ducking this issue...we have to now make a decision, each individually, national interest decision, based on the deal versus the alternatives, that is not going to be easy for everybody".

"An open-ended backstop in place until or unless it is superseded is critical to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid a hard border in Ireland", Mr Farry said.

Meanwhile, pro-EU Conservative MP Justine Greening said the agreement would leave the United Kingdom with less influence and undermine its credibility.

Labour has said it will oppose any agreement which fails to support jobs and the economy and leader Jeremy Corbyn has already said the draft "is unlikely to be a good deal for the country".

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