Cabinet summoned after Brexit negotiators agree draft text

Blanche Robertson
November 14, 2018

Late on Tuesday afternoon Number 10 announced there would be a special Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to consider the draft agreement and to decide on the next step.

"The devil will be in the detail of the Irish border issue".

If there is a deal then it must be done by the end of play on Wednesday in order to meet the deadline for a November Brexit summit.

May's government is braced for possible resignations.

The Democratic Unionist Party which props up the Conservative government said it "couldn't possibly vote" for the deal.

Tory Europhiles led by arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg have also threatened to vote down the deal which they have dubbed BRINO - "Brexit in Name Only".

A cabinet source has told BBC the text of the withdrawal agreement has been agreed at a technical level by officials from both sides after intensive talks this week.

May is briefing senior ministers on the progress of the talks at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street on Tuesday.

"We could not support any deal that creates a border of any kind in the Irish Sea and undermines the Union or leads to Northern Ireland having a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the United Kingdom, beyond what now exists".

It also provides for additional "deeper" provisions for Northern Ireland on customs and regulations, RTE said.

"It is very hard to see any reason why the Cabinet should support Northern Ireland being ruled from Dublin".

The EU rejects any time limit to the so-called "backstop" insurance policy to guarantee an open border. The UK would also have to continue following numerous European Union rules in areas like the environment, employee protections and state aid.

Britons will not need visas for short stays in the EU even if there is no Brexit deal, the European Commission has said.

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So is this all, as the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested this week, mere "stage management" for a deal that has actually been agreed for some time?

"There won't be a deal today but we're pushing hard to get it over the line tomorrow", a Whitehall source told BI.

He added: "We are not quite there yet".

"I think it is dawning on them that actually, something that I don't think they actually ever really thought was a possibility. which is the possibility that we might leave without a deal", he said.

Theresa May's Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, remained in Brussels over the weekend in a bid to broker a compromise and talks with European Union negotiators continued until 3am on Monday morning.

The pound rallied on news of a deal, rising 1.5 percent against the dollar to $1.3038.

However, the text must still be approved by Cabinet before being put to the House of Commons. "We want a good text that scrupulously respects the interests of the European Union", she wrote on Twitter.

Cabinet ministers called to Downing Street to read draft Brexit documents.

In a sign that some are running out of patience with United Kingdom infighting, German Europe minister Michael Roth said the time for a deal "overripe".

It said they met for drinks at International Trade Secretary Liam Fox's office on Monday night to discuss their concerns. The Tory government did not oppose the Labour motion, fearing a rebellion from their own MPs on the issue.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds said the party "couldn't possibly vote for" the deal.

If the only choice presented to MPs is her plan or a no-deal scenario it could frighten enough waverers into backing her.

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