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The U.K. and EU Have Agreed on a Brexit Text. Now May’s Cabinet Puts It to the Test (Bloomberg)


By Tim Ross , Jess Shankleman , Robert Hutton , and Kitty Donaldson
November 13, 2018, 9:02 PM GMT+3 Updated on November 13, 2018, 10:37 PM GMT+3

  • Negotiators have reached an agreement on the divorce treaty
  • May has to get it past critics in her Cabinet and Parliament

The U.K. and the European Union have agreed on a draft divorce deal. Now Prime Minister Theresa May puts it to her Cabinet, who have to decide whether to back it or resign.

Negotiators have settled on a text after working through the night this week in Brussels, according to three people familiar with the situation. May’s ministers have started filing into her office to read it and are due to meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. to sign off.

EU officials cautioned that the deal isn’t done until it gets political sign-off in London.

While the pound rose on this breakthrough — talks had been at impasse for months — there are more obstacles ahead. Cabinet is the first hurdle, but her hardest task will be to force it through the House of Commons, where the arithmetic is looking increasingly challenging. Her critics in Parliament — whose votes she will need — were quick to criticize the deal on Tuesday.

May’s Cabinet has been long divided on what Brexit should mean. Many have reservations that she’s given away too much and that the U.K. won’t be able to escape the EU’s orbit for years, in a betrayal of the referendum in 2016.

She’s survived the loss of some of key figures in her Cabinet — former Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. If more high profile figures quit, her life becomes complicated again. Even if they don’t, getting it through Parliament remains a struggle.

Representatives of EU governments are expecting to be briefed on Wednesday on the deal — which includes the draft separation agreement and also an outline of what the future relationship should be. That part isn’t binding and is expected to include more warm words than detailed decisions. They will meet at the same time as the Cabinet.

If all goes well, and it still might not, then a summit could be called toward the end of November — officials said Nov. 25 was a likely date.

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