Britain and EU Agree on a Brexit plan


Britain struck a draft divorce deal with the European Union after more than a year of talks, thrusting Prime Minister Theresa May into a perilous battle over Brexit that could shape her country's prosperity for generations to come.

"Cabinet will meet at 2:00pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps", a spokesman at Ms May's Downing Street office said.

Britain wants to seal a deal this fall, so that Parliament has time to vote on it before the United Kingdom leaves the bloc on March 29.

Sources said agreement was "undoubtedly closer than yesterday", and ministers are increasingly confident they will be summoned for another meeting. On Tuesday night she summoned those in her cabinet one by one to Number 10 for briefings on the agreement, in what is being seen as a divide-and-conquer strategy.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU ministers from the 27 other member states that "intense negotiating efforts continue", adding that the Irish border issue remained unresolved.

Many were hoping for a second People's Vote on Brexit, now the reality of what was on the table was more clear. However, there are growing fears of Britain leaving the bloc with no-deal - either through lack of movement on negotiations or that the United Kingdom parliament won't accept the deal Theresa May presents to MPs.

Mr Francois said the PM's Brexit neogtiations had been "one tactical defeat after another".

There has been no official confirmation from either Downing Street or Brussels.

Brussels has repeatedly told Mrs May that - as long as they could agree on the details of a deal amongst themselves - the European Union would help her present it however she wished in order to help her sell the package back home.

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In October, thousands of anti-Brexit protesters gathered in London to voice their concern about the UK's planned withdrawal from the EU.

May also faces growing opposition from pro-EU lawmakers, who say her proposed Brexit deal is worse than the status quo and the British public should get a new vote on whether to leave or to stay.

"Everything hangs on that and ultimately whether Theresa May can get this past Parliament", said Aberdeen Standard Investments Political Economist Stephanie Kelly. Despite resigning as Foreign Secretary and thus having no direct knowledge of the said documents, Boris Johnson slammed the deal as "vassal state stuff".

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".

Some 500 pages of text can then be poured over.

The backstop will take the shape of a UK-wide customs union with the EU, with Northern Ireland sticking to some of the European single market. "If a deal is reached, however, it would apply as of the end of the transition period", the Commission said in a statement.

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.