UK, EU strike draft terms for Brexit deal, politicians pessimistic

UPDATE — 11/15, 9:12 a.m. EST: Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday evening in London just outside 10 Downing Street her cabinet has agreed to a draft Brexit deal.

On Thursday morning, four members of May’s cabinet resigned, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.  Rumors have swirled the prime minister may be replaced by a member of her own party due to general dissatisfaction with how Brexit negotiations have been handled.

 

After months of uneasy negotiations, British and European Union (EU) negotiators have come to terms on a Brexit draft to extract the United Kingdom from the European economic bloc.

“Cabinet will meet at 2:00 pm (1400 GMT) tomorrow (Wednesday) to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps,” read a statement released from 10 Downing.

Encapsulated in what is known as a Withdrawal Agreement, the 129-page text sheds light on a major obstacle in months-long talks:  There will be no “hard” border on Ireland.

The draft, however, will include one “backstop,” a short-lived U.K.-wide customs concord with a specific conditions to accommodate Northern Ireland.  The special proviso will address the issue of customs rules for access to a single market.

Similarly, the draft proposal includes some specifics over citizens’ rights post-Brexit, a 21-month changeover period after Brexit occurs and some vague specifics of the expected “divorce” payment.

The U.K.’s tab for the Brexit exodus is believed to hover around £39 billion.

Also included in the proposed Brexit framework are particulars concerning long-term trade arrangements between the EU and the U.K.

Although crucial details remain, if the draft proposal is approved by Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet, it requires the ratification of Parliament to go into effect.

Several Conservative Party and Northern Ireland leaders have already expressed doubt about the deal, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who called the draft “vassal state stuff”, rendering it “utterly unacceptable”.

On Wednesday, Ms. May held an emergency meeting of her cabinet and said the government was “significantly closer” to a Brexit deal.  Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, countered the agreement would force the U.K. into an “indefinite half-way house without any real say” over EU rules.

If approved by the cabinet and Parliament, Brexit will commence on March 29, 2019.

 

[France 24] [The Guardian] [BBC] [NBC News] [Photo courtesy Reuters/The Independent]