United Kingdom announces draft Brexit deal with European Union as opponents cry foul

Theresa May will host a special Cabinet meeting on Thursday after United Kingdom and European Union negotiators reached a deal at a "technical level".

It would apply to trips of up to 90 days within any 180-day period, starting from March 30 in the event of a no-deal Brexit and from the end of any transition period if a deal is achieved.

British radical Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson have painted the outcome as "a win" for Dublin and a blow to the UK.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar is to hold a special cabinet meeting later.

A vote on a final deal in the United Kingdom parliament, however, could come as early as the end of this month with the United Kingdom government aiming to get a final draft of the deal out by Tuesday, the day of a crucial cabinet meeting.

Several prominent pro-Brexit figures lined up to condemn the plan, which if the leaks are representative of what has been agreed, would see most promises and red-lines promised by the Prime Minister broken or ignored.

"There's quite a path from here to final deal, but at least the waiting game is over", said David Henig, a former senior civil servant within the Department of Trade.

While a deal is possible in December, delays raise the risk of the most damaging scenario of Britain leaving the European Union next March without agreements in place to mitigate its impacts.

The problem has been that since the prime minister promised in her Lancaster House speech to take Britain out of both the EU's single market (to cease being an EU "rule-taker") and the customs union (to allow it to strike its own trade deals around the world) customs and regulatory checks at the border are hard to dodge. The DUP is wary of any border compromise that could bind Northern Ireland to the EU.

She apparently claimed the United Kingdom will have to "align their rules but the EU will retain all the controls", bragging that Britain is effectively accepting staying in the customs union for good, and will have to "swallow" demands over fishing waters. The agreement also has to be ratified by the European Parliament.

Her coalition partners from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have also threatened to vote against the agreement if they find it splinters the province from the rest of Britain.

Former party leader and Brexit hardliner Iain Duncan Smith warned that if reports of the deal's contents were true the Government was "breaking their own agreed position and will be bringing back something that is untenable".

A European source said a technical agreement had been struck but still needed political approval both on the British and European sides.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the party wouldn't accept "that our laws would be made in Brussels, not in Westminster or Belfast".

Labour has said it will oppose any agreement which fails to support jobs and the economy and leader Jeremy Corbyn has already said the draft "is unlikely to be a good deal for the country".

"Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and I am determined to deliver for them".

"There won't be a deal today but we're pushing hard to get it over the line tomorrow", a Whitehall source told BI.

The UK government faced with a no deal would then need to make a statement to parliament at some point in January outlining what it intends to do, which would then be voted on in parliament.

  • Leroy Wright