Sat, 15 June 2024

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Theresa May calls emergency Cabinet meeting to sign off Brexit deal after talks breakthrough

2 min read

Theresa May has summoned her Cabinet to an emergency meeting tomorrow to finally approve her Brexit deal.

British and European negotiators reached a draft agreement late on Monday night, and the Prime Minister has spent much of the day analysing it with her team of advisers.

Cabinet ministers are going in to Number 10 for a series of one-to-one meetings with Mrs May this evening as she tries to persuade them to back her plan.

In recent weeks the negotiations have centred on how to maintain an open border in Ireland after Brexit, by far the most contentious aspect of the talks.

It is understood that the draft document contains proposals for the UK to stay in a customs arrangement with the EU while a long-term free trade deal is thrashed out.

However, it is unclear what provisions it will contain to answer British concerns that such a set-up should not be indefinite, and will not result in Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of the UK.

Mrs May will hope that the precise wording of the document, which is thought to run to around 500 pages, will be enough to keep her eurosceptic ministers and the DUP on board.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "Cabinet will meet at 2pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps.

"Cabinet Ministers have been invited to read documentation ahead of that meeting."

Meanwhile, Mrs May was hit by a fresh blow tonight after the Government lost a Commons motions forcing it to publish the legal advice it has received on Brexit.

David Lidington, the de facto deputy Prime Minister, offered a series of concessions to Labour, but they were rejected.

Significantly, the DUP - who Mrs May relies on to prop up her minority government - backed the Labour calls for the advice to be shown to MPs in full.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson said he was "sympathetic" to Government arguments that legal advice to ministers should not be published "willy nilly".

But he added: "No one has compromised the government's position more than the Government itself in these negotiations.

"They willingly accepted the EU agenda and timetable and sequencing for the negotiations. They uncritically accepted this nonsense of the backstop of Northern Ireland - a problem which doesn't exist and which can be dealt with by the existing trade facilitation measures which are in place."

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