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* The key points from the 585-page, proposed agreement,e a “single customs territory» and a row to have right to stay permanently in UK with families
British Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union have a Brexit deal, a historic agreement that lays out the terms of the United Kingdom’s breakup with the bloc.
The other 27 EU member-states finalized and approved the withdrawal agreement at a summit in Brussels this Sunday. But the process is far from over: May must now get a deeply divided UK Parliament to approve the plan.
Hostility for the deal has been building for
nearly two weeks, ever since May first unveiled the proposed agreement.
The most vocal resistance comes from the prime minister’s own Conservative Party, a fractured mess of loyalists and hardline “Brexiteers” who want a more decisive break with the European Union. The opposition Labour Party has also said it will resist the deal. Right now, at least, the withdrawal agreement doesn’t seem to have the votes.
- This standstill could push everyone toward a “no deal” Brexit, the “cliff edge” scenario that would be bad for the EU, and likely catastrophic for Britain.
- Planes would be grounded, ports would be clogged, food would rot, and garbage would pile up, and those are just some of the possible scenarios.
- May’s future is riding on the agreement, as well. At a Sunday press conference, she warnedthat a failed deal would lead to division and uncertainty. That includes her own job, which is far from secure as she faces pushback from all sides.
Amid this political turmoil, Brexit’s March 29, 2019, deadline inches ever closer. Here’s a look at some possible outcomes as May prepares to test her deal in Parliament.
The current state of play in the UK
This lengthy agreement tackles some of the critical issues in the forthcoming EU-UK break-up, specifically the divorce settlement (how much the UK must pay the EU, which is likely at least £39 billion, or about $50 billion) and the post-Brexit status of UK citizens and EU nationals living in the EU and UK, respectively. It also includes the Irish “backstop,” ensuring that the politically sensitive border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU country) remains open, even if the UK and EU don’t finalize border details in a post-Brexit deal.
The withdrawal agreement also calls for a 21-month transition period until December 31, 2020, to give the EU and the UK time to figure out their future relationship, the hard details of the trade, security cooperation, and more. (The transition can be renewed one time for up to two years.) A political declaration lays out the broad outlines for this arrangement.
The details of these plan were largely finalized on Sunday, when the 27 EU member states signed off on the deal in Brussels. The European Parliament will also need to formally approve the agreement at some point. But first it’s got to get ratified by the UK Parliament.
And this is promising to be difficult because every political camp within the UK has found something to hate in this agreement.
May’s plan, briefly, is an attempt at a “soft” Brexit compromise, but even those who favor closer alignment with the EU don’t love this deal. They see this deal as severing too many ties to EU, leaving Britain weaker and worse off economically than it was before.
The hardline “Brexiteers” in her party are virulently opposed — though it’s unlikely they’d be pleased by any deal. They see May’s deal as preventing the UK from reclaiming control of its borders and laws, and blocking it from making trade deals with other countries. Under May’s deal, the UK will also still have to follow EU customs rules for a period of time, but will lose its decision-making power in the bloc.
Then there’s Labour, the opposition party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Labour has its own disagreements about Brexit within the party, but it has collectively rejected May’s deal, saying it doesn’t meet their required pillars for a satisfactory Brexit. The party also sees this as an opportunity: If May and her deal implode, it might put them closer to regaining control of the government.
There’s pushback from other corners, including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a party from Northern Ireland. The DUP’s partnership with the Tories is keeping May in power. This party has resisted the deal; they object to the Irish border backstop plan because it would apply different rules to Northern Ireland, compared to the rest of the UK.
The bottom line: Few are satisfied with this compromise, because the UK is splintered between those who want out of the EU and those who never wanted to leave in the first place. No side actually “wins” with this deal.
- And May’s own government is divided on the plan. After she secured cabinet approval of her draft deal last week, two top Cabinet ministers quit in protest the next day, including her Brexit secretary.
- (Several other junior members also stepped down.) It’s a sign the divisions within Britain are deep enough to derail whatever May brings home from Brussels.
- The UK Parliament could approve the deal … at some point
The UK Parliament will vote on the Brexit deal in mid-December. May needs 320 votes to pass the agreement, but it’s not clear yet if she will have the support.
Back in 2017, May tried to shore up support for Brexit negotiations by calling snap elections. Her plan backfired, and May’s Conservative Party ended up losing the majority, and formed a minority government with the DUP, whose 10 votes it needed to retain power.
The DUP said May has broken her promise on Brexit, and seems unlikely to support the deal.
As many as 51 Conservative party members have said they wouldn’t vote for a previous “soft” Brexit plan, but the number of total defectors right now is unclear. May’s cabinet will try to whip votes, though that won’t likely convince the hardcore Brexiteers.
It seems likely May will need to peel off some Labour votes in order to get her deal passed. (Labour has broadly rejected the deal, but there’s still a chance that some MPs could break off and support it.)
So while it’s too early to say May’s deal is headed for defeat, it’s definitely not looking great.
At least on the first try. Experts say if the Brexit deal gets voted down in December, there’s a chance May might be able to try again, especially if the financial markets or businesses freak out at the prospect no-deal scenario.
The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: Sky News