British and European Union negotiators have finalized the text for a draft deal for the UK’s departure from the bloc, Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said on Tuesday.
May has called a Cabinet meeting for Wednesday afternoon, preceded by a series of one-on-one meetings with Cabinet ministers, to discuss the terms of the deal.
According to Ireland’s public broadcaster RTE, the text resolves the Irish border issue, a fundamental sticking point in negotiations.
German MEP Manfred Weber, the lead candidate for the center-right European People’s Party bloc in next years European elections, confirmed there had been a breakthrough. “The white smoke is rising,” he told German public broadcaster ARD. “There are positive signals that we have finally reached an agreement after weeks and months of tortuous debate.”
However, a spokesperson for the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal “wasn’t yet finalized,” and that the ambassadors from the 27 other member states would “take stock” on Wednesday.
May faces an uphill battle getting ministers to agree to the deal, with several warning they would vote against it if it was not to their liking.
DW’s London correspondent Birgit Maas said that the hard-line Brexiteers in the cabinet would likely not accept “whatever May thrashes out with Brussels,” as they fear Britain would become a “vassal state of the EU.”
Brexit zealot Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary in July, said he would not support the deal.
“I think that the right thing for them (ministers) to do is to advise the prime minister that this would not be acceptable,” he told the BBC.
“It patently fails to fulfill the mandate given by the British people in (the EU referendum) in June 2016.”
The conservative Northern Irish DUP party, which props up May’s minority government, said it would wait and see the actual text of the deal, which is reportedly hundreds of pages long, before deciding how it would vote.
‘Unlikely to be a good deal’
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said: “We will look at the details of what has been agreed when they are available. But from what we know of the shambolic handling of these negotiations, this is unlikely to be a good deal for the country.”
Pro-Brexit lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “I hope the Cabinet will block it and if not, I hope Parliament will block it. I think what we know of this deal is deeply unsatisfactory.”