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Brexit: Cabinet backs draft agreement

11/14/18
from BBC,
11/14/18:

The cabinet has backed a draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, Theresa May has said.

The prime minister was speaking after what she said was a "long, detailed and impassioned debate" in a five-hour cabinet meeting. She said it was a "decisive step" in the progress of Brexit, and would allow the agreement to be finalised. The EU's chief negotiator said it was in both sides' interests. But leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg described it as a "rotten deal".

In her statement outside Downing Street, Mrs May said the agreed package was "the result of thousands of hours of hard negotiation with EU officials". She believed that "this decisive choice is in the best interests of the entire UK", adding: "When you strip away the detail, the choice before us is clear. "This deal, which delivers on the vote of the referendum, which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our Union; or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all."

The 585-page draft withdrawal agreement has now been published, alongside a shorter statement setting out what the UK and EU's future relations will look like.

What's in it? The withdrawal agreement covers so-called "divorce" issues. It includes a commitment to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in the EU to continue living, working and studying. There is also a planned 21-month transition period after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, and a "financial settlement" from the UK, thought to be between £35bn and £39bn. The most contentious part of the negotiations is a "backstop", which aims to guarantee that physical checks will not be reintroduced at the border with the Irish Republic, in the event this is not settled by a UK-EU trade deal.

What happens next? Theresa May is sure to face some hostile questioning when she faces MPs' questions on Thursday. Meanwhile, the EU has said "decisive progress" has now been made in the negotiations. This was the test required before it would call a special summit to agree the withdrawal plans, possibly later this month. After that, the government faces a crunch vote in Parliament where MPs will be asked to approve the plans. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 - at which point, if the withdrawal agreement has been ratified, the transition period begins.

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