Brexit deal edges closer as Cabinet ministers shown copies of draft withdrawal agreement

Posted On: 
7th November 2018

A Brexit deal has edged closer after senior ministers were invited to read a draft copy of the withdrawal agreement the UK is set to strike with Brussels.

The Government is on the verge of agreeing a Brexit deal with the EU.

A copy of the proposed deal was made available in the reading room of the Cabinet Office from 1pm this afternoon.

However, it did not contain any text on the contentious issue of the Irish backstop, which has yet to be agreed by British and European negotiators.

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Senior government sources said an emergency Cabinet meeting could take place next Monday to formally sign off the deal - if an agreement can be reached with the EU on Ireland in the next few days.

The latest signs of progress came as Theresa May came under pressure to publish the full legal advice she has been given on proposals to avoid the return of a hard Irish border.

Mrs May wants to keep the whole of the UK in a customs arrangement with the EU until a trade deal can be agreed, but Brexiteers fear that could leave Britain tied to the bloc indefinitely.

To avoid that, the Prime Minister wants to agree a review mechanism with Brussels which would allow both sides to jointly decide when to bring the backstop to an end.

Mrs May offered to show her colleagues a summary of the legal advice, but Environment Secretary Michael Gove told yesterday's three-hour Cabinet meeting that the full text should be made available. PoliticsHome understands that every minister present backed the move.

DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson also said the legal advice should be published, as have Labour and the Lib Dems.

If a Brexit deal is agreed with the EU and rubber-stamped by the Cabinet, an emergency Brussels summit is expected to be held at the end of November.

That would tee up a Commons vote on the deal before Christmas, with Mrs May facing a major challenge to win the support of a majority of MPs for her plans.