Draft Brexit agreement 'right deal for the UK': May

Prime Minister Theresa May fended off heavy opposition to her Brexit deal in parliament. — AFP  VNA
Prime Minister Theresa May fended off heavy opposition to her Brexit deal in parliament. — AFP VNA

23 November, 2018

At home, May is under intense pressure from pro-Brexit and pro-EU British lawmakers, with large numbers on both sides of the debate opposing the divorce deal. "And I think the job of an MP is actually, when they come to look at voting for this deal, to say to themselves, 'Does it deliver on what people voted for?' - I believe it does - and secondly, 'What do we need to focus on for our constituents, for people up and down the country?'"

The prospect of Parliament rejecting the deal when it comes up for a vote - likely next month - has increased fears among businesses that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a plan to keep trade running smoothly.

Tusk, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said he has sent the draft political declaration to Britain's 27 European partners and that it till requires "the endorsement of the leaders".

After the draft declaration was agreed on Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez repeated a threat to scupper the deal if Madrid's concerns about Gibraltar are not addressed.

Why has Spain come up with a last-minute objection and what impact could it have ahead of Sunday's summit, where the European Union leaders meet to rubber-stamp the Brexit deal?

The Prime Minister updated around 50 representatives from Northern Ireland businesses, universities and the voluntary and community sector on the draft Brexit deal at a reception, also attended by David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The UK-EU deal will create a free trade area with the EU unlike any other, May told politicians, adding the next 72 hours are crucial.

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Sunday's summit is meant to conclude almost two years of complex and often acrimonious negotiations on how Britain and the European Union will function after their March 29 divorce.

The "transition" period which will go on until the end of 2020.

Spain's stance is opposed by both London and Belfast, where Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said a deal that took almost two years to negotiate "should not be changed now". The bill has previously been estimated at about 39 billion pounds (NZ$74 billion).

Telling the news cameras that she had tasked British negotiators to work overnight to get an agreement on the draft document, Theresa May said: "this is the right deal for the UK".

The political declaration, seen by AFP, says future ties will be wide-ranging, covering economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defence. But numerous details will only be worked out after Britain leaves the European Union on March 29. There are many parts to this but essentially there will be no tariffs between the United Kingdom and the EU and some (though not all) trade restrictions will be removed-that's been described as being similar to a customs union.

In the Commons, May also highlighted the possibility that the Irish border issue can be resolved through the use of technology, rather than through the controversial "backstop" customs arrangement included in the divorce deal. This could include as-yet undeveloped technological solutions.

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