Anti-EU figures blast 'humiliating' Brexit deal struck by Theresa May
Hardcore eurosceptics have blasted the "humiliating" deal Theresa May struck with Brussels this morning.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage argued the British position had "collapsed at every level" while the Leave.EU campaign said the Prime Minister had "betrayed" voters.
It came as Labour and business offered a cautious welcome to the deal but prominent Tory MPs hailed it as a major triumph for the Prime Minister.
Mrs May flew to Brussels in the small hours where European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker announced the Brexit talks could move on to the transition and future trade.
The UK will continue “full alignment” with EU trade bodies as part of the deal to avoid a hard border in Ireland and to prevent Northern Ireland being cut adrift from the rest of the UK.
And it will pay a divorce bill of between £35bn and £39bn, it emerged later this morning.
Mr Nigel Farage blasted: "The whole thing is humiliating. We've collapsed on every level."
Speaking to the BBC, he added: "We should never have been making a series of concessions just in some vague hope that we might get a trade deal at the end of it. The British government is weak."
Leave.EU boss Arron Banks fumed: “Theresa May has betrayed the country and the 17.4 million Leave voters.”
He added: “The traitorous, lily-livered embarrassment of a prime minister has just overseen the biggest sell-out of this country since [Ted Heath] signed us up to the European project in 1973.”
He said Britain was leaving the EU “in name only” and urged Brexit-supporting Tory MPs to trigger a leadership contest to topple Mrs May.
IN THE SINGLE MARKET 'FOR A CENTURY'
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said concessions made to ensure the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland stays open would leave the UK in EU institutions for "a century".
Appearing on LBC radio he argued the agreement meant Brexit was “now being tied to the resolution of the Irish border problem”.
“In other words Britain will stay in the single market and customs union until the Irish border issue is resolved,” he explained.
“But, since the Irish border issue is unlikely to be resolved any time this century, it seems to imply we’re staying indefinitely.”
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said the breakthrough in talks was “encouraging” but urged the Prime Minister to “seriously reflect on her approach to the negotiations so far”.
He added: “We cannot have another year of chaos and confusion or the farcical scenes we saw earlier on in the week that put jobs and the economy at risk.”
Pro-EU campaign Open Britain said it was “about time” trade talks began but said the detail of the agreement would lead Brits to reconsider “whether the costs of Brexit are worth it”.
Tory MP and pro-EU campaigner Anna Soubry told the Guardian the deal was "a move in the right direction to a much more sensible, softer Brexit".
'SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENT'
But Conservative MPs - including top figures who support Brexit - heaped praise on Mrs May.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove - who played a key role in the official Vote Leave campaign - said it was a “significant personal, political achievement” for her.
Boris Johnson - who was effectively the figurehead of the Leave campaign - said: “Congratulations to the PM for her determination in getting today’s deal”.
Other top figures from across the political divide weighed in with their reaction on Twitter.
In the business world, the Confederation of British Industry called for further clarity for EU citizens working in the UK, arguing: “This cannot be their second Christmas where their rights are dependent on negotiations.”
The Federation of Small Business meanwhile said by early next year there must be “a guarantee that there will be no cliff-edge moment on Brexit day” for firms.