British and European Union negotiators have agreed on a draft Brexit deal, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said, more than two years after the country voted in a divisive referendum to withdraw from the bloc.
May has called an emergency Cabinet meeting for Wednesday to discuss the draft deal, her office announced, after months of twisting negotiations and marathon talks in recent days.
A Downing Street spokesman said that the Cabinet would meet at 2 p.m. local time 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.”
May’s rocky premiership has hung on reaching a Brexit deal. She had hoped to strike a draft agreement by this week to have any hope of getting the deal through the required ratification processes by the time Britain leaves the EU at the end of March.
May is now faced with the task of getting Cabinet approval of the draft, then more painfully, passing it through Parliament.
The agreement sets out the terms of Britain’s divorce from the union after 45 years of membership. It was reached after talks went through the night and the two sides agreed all the technical details of the withdrawal.
Talks had stalled over the thorny issue of the border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Both sides wanted to avoid a “hard border” between the territories but reached an impasse over the terms.
Hardline Brexit supporters in May’s Conservative Party have argued that the Prime Minister has sought a deal that ties the country too close to existing EU rules and regulations.
May has had to tread a fine line between keeping those hardliners happy and ensuring the UK is in a favourable trade position with the EU.
“Any deal must ensure we take back control of our laws, borders and money,” May said on Monday, denying
“It must secure the ability to strike new trade deals around the world.”