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Draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK (European Council press release)

European Council President Donald Tusk today sent the EU27 Member States the draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK that has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the Leaders.

Coreper (Art. 50) met today to assess the document. Friday morning, the EU27 Sherpas will meet to finalise preparations for the special European Council (Art. 50) on Sunday.

Draft political declaration (pdf)

Visit the Council of the EU website



Withdrawal Agreement explainer and Technical Explanatory note on Articles 6-8 on the Northern Ireland Protocol (UK Government Policy Paper)

Published 14 November 2018
From: Department for Exiting the European Union

Explainer to support understanding of the draft Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union.

Click on below links to open the pdf documents:

14_November_Explainer_for_the_agreement_on_the_withdrawal_of_the_United_Kingdom_of_Great_Britain_and_Northern_Ireland_from_the_European_Union___1.    PDF, 254KB, 56 pages

14_November_Technical_Explanatory_Note_Arts_6-8_Northern_Ireland_ProtocolPDF, 64.1KB, 2 pages


The draft Withdrawal Agreement sets out the provisional terms of the UK’s smooth and orderly exit from the European Union. It reflects agreement in principle between the UK and EU negotiating teams on the full legal text. This document has been produced to support understanding of the legal text.

The Northern Ireland technical note reflects commonly agreed principles between the UK and the EU as to how Articles 6 to 8 of the Northern Ireland Protocol included in the Withdrawal Agreement would operate in any scenario in which the provisions came into effect. These provisions relate to the single customs territory, movement of goods and protection of the UK’s internal market.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement, outline Political Declaration and Joint Statement on the future relationship are available here.



EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, holds the draft withdrawal agreement on Wednesday. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

Brexit deal: key points from the draft withdrawal agreement (The Guardian)

EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, holds the draft withdrawal agreement on Wednesday. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

Jon Henley European affairs correspondent
Wed 14 Nov 2018 22.08 GMT

Brexiters will find many contentious clauses difficult to stomach within the 585-page draft document

The 585-page draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the European Union and the United Kingdom contains several highly contentious points that supporters of Brexit in particular will find hard to stomach. Here are some of the points that may cause problems for the prime minister, Theresa May, in parliament:

Irish border backstop

The draft Brexit agreement says both parties will “use their best endeavours” to have a future trade agreement concluded six months before the end of the transition period in December 2020, but that if this is not the case the EU and the UK could “jointly extend the transition period” for an unspecified period.

Otherwise the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland aimed at preventing a hard border would come into force. The backstop, consisting of “a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom”, will apply from the end of the transition period “unless and until … a subsequent agreement becomes applicable”.

The single customs territory would cover all goods except fishery products, the agreement says, and will “include the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK”.

There would necessarily be extra non-customs checks on some types of goods passing between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which will not please the Democratic Unionist party who have consistently opposed any kind of differential treatment for Northern Ireland.

On exiting the backstop, the agreement says that if “either side considers the the backstop is no longer necessary, it can notify the other” setting out its reasons. A joint committee must then meet within six months, and both sides must agree jointly to end the backstop.

This part of the agreement would be difficult for Brexiters to swallow. They have consistently argued that Britain must be able to exit any all-UK customs union as and when it wants to be able to pursue free-trade deals around the world.

Level playing field

The agreement says that under the backstop arrangement the UK must observe “level playing field” commitments on competition and state aid, as well as employment and environment standards and tax. These measures are intended to ensure that UK businesses are not able to undercut EU industry.

Brussels has demanded “dynamic alignment”, which would oblige the UK parliament to simply cut and paste EU regulations as they are issued after Brexit. Britain must also transfer three EU tax directives into law – on the exchange of tax information, reporting on investment firms and the EU’s code of conduct on taxation.

“Non-regression clauses” will also prevent the UK from bringing in lower standards on social, environmental and labour regulations such as working hours.

Many of these requirements would also be anathema to Conservative Brexiters, for whom leaving the EU represented an opportunity to head towards a low-tax, light-regulation economy such as that seen in Singapore.

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Theresa May said after a five-hour cabinet meeting yesterday that she believed her draft deal to withdraw from the EU was the best that could be negotiated VICTORIA JONES/PA

May papers over the cracks as cabinet back Brexit deal (The Times)

Theresa May said after a five-hour cabinet meeting yesterday that she believed her draft deal to withdraw from the EU was the best that could be negotiated

Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Sam Coates | Oliver Wright | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
November 14 2018, 8:30pm

Theresa May confronted her mutinous party with the threat of “no Brexit at all” after she forced her draft deal with the EU through a divided cabinet.

Esther McVey, the welfare secretary, was believed to be on the verge of quitting last night after clashes at the end of a marathon five-hour meeting. She was shouted down by the chief whip and cabinet secretary after she demanded a vote by ministers on the deal.

Although Ms McVey was one of nine senior ministers to criticise the deal, Mrs May emerged claiming to have secured cabinet backing for a “decisive step” towards finalising Brexit at a special summit on November 25.

The prime minister admitted, however, that she faced “difficult days ahead” as Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the Brexiteer Tory backbenchers, rejected the draft agreement, saying that it would make Britain “a permanent rule-taker” and warned that it could trigger a vote of no confidence.

Mrs May will face a hostile reception from Tory Brexiteers when she makes a Commons statement today as they decide whether to trigger a leadership contest. If she wins, she cannot be challenged as leader for another year.

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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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Theresa May’s Brexit deal crashes as EU ‘turns off life support’ (The Times)

Theresa May’s plan for avoiding a hard border with Ireland has been rejected by the EU

Brussels rejects her key compromise as four ‘remain’ ministers on verge of quitting

Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor
November 11 2018, 12:01am

Theresa May has been plunged into a deeper crisis after Brussels rejected her key Brexit proposal, which was intended to avoid the UK being trapped in an indefinite customs union.

The prime minister had hoped to unite her cabinet and overcome the final hurdle in negotiations with the EU by offering to create an “independent mechanism” to oversee how the UK might leave a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapsed.

But this weekend senior EU officials sent shockwaves through No 10 by rejecting May’s plan, sparking fears that negotiations have broken down days before “no-deal” preparations costing billions need to be implemented.

The mechanism was seen by key members of the cabinet, including the attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox, as crucial to preventing the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” being used to force the UK into being a “never-ending rule-taker from Brussels”.

A Whitehall source described the plan as the government’s “life-support machine”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has just turned off the oxygen.” A senior cabinet minister said: “This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.”

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Brexit has plenty of unexpected bonuses (The Times)

We’re tackling problems like poor productivity thanks to our imminent departure from the EU.

November 9 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Why does Brexit make so many people so cross? The more you think about it, the odder it is. Leaving the EU is not Iraq or Vietnam. Nobody will be killed by Brexit, except perhaps those who are bored to death by it.

For all the adjectives you could use to describe Brexit — confounding, frustrating, momentous and historic — it is, above all, desperately boring. I’m talking not just about the endless soap opera of negotiations, though that’s up there with the collected works of Thomas Hardy in the boredom stakes. Brexit is boring because it turns out the European Union itself is mostly boring.

Consider the powers that will be returned to Westminster after we finally leave: to negotiate trade deals with other countries; to impose tariffs; to introduce new regulations on employment and product standards; to set quotas for migration and visas. For the past four decades the EU has functioned in large part as a legislative black hole into which we have outsourced some of the more tedious levers of the state.

Yes this stuff matters, in much the same boring but worthy way that it matters what diameter of sewage pipes we use. In some sectors, such as agriculture, Brexit has the potential for exciting innovations. But consider the most important powers at the government’s disposal: defence of the realm, fixing levels of tax and public spending, managing the welfare state and deciding interest rate policy. Set against this it is hard not to find the powers returned from Brussels rather piffling.

True: you can make the case that big constitutional decisions should be taken at home. You can argue that throwing sand into the wheels of trade between Britain and Europe will only make both of us poorer. You can point to the possibility that Britain leaves without a deal, something that would not be boring in the slightest, at least for a few months. Except that the likelihood of it happening is far smaller than you might assume. It suits everyone concerned, for all sorts of reasons, to ramp up the drama.

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No-deal plan ‘will include new border in Irish Sea’. DUP accuses May after leaked letter from No 10. (The Times)

A letter from Theresa May has led DUP leaders to fear she will renege on a promise to prevent any division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor
November 8 2018, 10:00pm

The five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday from Mrs May to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy.

In it, the prime minister says that the EU is still pushing for the “backstop to the backstop” but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to “come into force”.

A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit agreement will be included in a divorce deal, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests.

The prime minister was accused last night of breaking her promise to the Democratic Unionist Party that she would never sign up to a deal that could allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The European plan, known as the “backstop to the backstop”, would leave Northern Ireland tied to the single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse. Brussels wants this insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May has previously said that no UK prime minister could ever agree to such a plan.

This wording has been interpreted by the DUP to mean that the clause will nevertheless be inserted into the legally binding agreement.

Mrs Foster said: “The prime minister’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious Union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK. It appears the prime minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime.”

The letter also says that the government does “not expect regulations to diverge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland” during the backstop, meaning the whole of the UK will be tied closely to European rules.

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Theresa May

Revealed: Theresa May’s secret Brexit deal (The Times)

The PM’s preparations for a final deal are believed to be far more advanced than previously disclosed

Tim Shipman, Political Editor
November 4 2018, 12:01am,
The Sunday Times

Breakthrough on Irish border as PM woos Tory rebels

Theresa May’s secret plan to secure a Brexit deal and win the backing of parliament can be revealed today.

Senior sources say the prime minister has secured private concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep the whole of Britain in a customs union, avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. They expect this to placate remainer Tories and win over some Labour MPs.

And in a move that will appeal to Eurosceptics, May is also said to be on course to secure a political deal on a “future economic partnership” (FEP) with the European Union that will allow Britain to keep open the prospect of a free trade deal resembling that enjoyed by Canada.

The Sunday Times has been told that preparations for a final deal are far more advanced than previously disclosed and will lead to a document of 50 pages or more when it is published — not the vague, five-page plan many expect.

Cabinet sources say parts of it “could have been written by Jacob Rees-Mogg”, the leader of the hardline Eurosceptics.

A close aide of Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, revealed a major concession on the Irish border during a private meeting in London last week. The EU now accepts that regulatory checks on goods can take place “in the market” by British officials, meaning they can be conducted at factories and shops rather than at the border.

Downing Street officials are desperate to see enough progress this week for the EU to announce a special summit later in November to agree the final details. May will discuss the proposals with her cabinet on Tuesday.

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