Draft Brexit deal to be voted on by Theresa May’s cabinet but obstacles remain

Draft Brexit deal to be voted on by Theresa May’s cabinet but obstacles remain

The UK and the EU agreed to a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement overnight. Today, UK Prime Minister Theresa May will

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the House of Commons on her government’s reaction to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, in London

Photo: Reuters

The UK and the EU agreed to a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement overnight. Today, UK Prime Minister Theresa May will present the agreement—not yet finalised—to her cabinet for approval.

As expected, the crux of the deal is the Irish border. Reports indicate the unpublished deal would have the UK remain in the customs union temporarily to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, with a joint EU-UK arbitrating body empowered to eventually end the arrangement.

Opposition has emerged across the political spectrum. Hardline Brexiteers oppose temporary membership of the customs union and giving Brussels an equal say in ending it, claiming it will render Britain a “vassal state”. The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party has baulked at reported trading checks in the Irish Sea and has vowed to vote down any agreement that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also expressed opposition to the proposed agreement, suggesting his party might vote against it.

Unless a faction gives in or Ms May can poach Labour votes from under Mr Corbyn’s nose, this deal seems unlikely to pass parliament as-is; there is little time to make additional fixes before an EU summit slated for the end of the month. If there are significant Cabinet resignations or opposition following today’s meeting, it could spell doom for this deal. But, if May minimises such defiance, she may muscle the agreement through—perhaps with minor alterations.

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