Is a Brexit deal done? Has Theresa May secured a withdrawal deal?
A Brexit deal has been reached by negotiators in Brussels and will be the focus of a last-minute Cabinet meeting which will be held tomorrow (Wednesday). A UK Government source confirmed that the agreement had been reached at a “technical level” but that Theresa May will need to win support from her Cabinet. Downing Street have issued a statement confirming Cabinet’s meeting for 2pm on Wednesday.
Downing Street’s statement said: “Cabinet will meet at 2pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps.
“Cabinet ministers have been invited to read documentation ahead of that meeting.”
Irish broadcaster RTE reported that a “stable” text had been agreed on the heated issue of the Northern Irish border.
The broadcaster said the deal involved one overall backstop which had a UK-wide customs arrangement, but will have deeper provisions for Northern Ireland on the topics of customs and regulations.
The developments came after the Prime Minister told Cabinet on this morning (Tuesday) that only a “small number” of issues were left to be resolved.
Mrs May’s de facto deputy David Lidington described a deal as being “almost within touching distance”.
If the Cabinet agrees to the Prime Minister’s proposals on Wednesday, a Brexit summit with the EU’s 27 leaders will take place on November 24 and 25.
However, responding to reports of a Brexit deal being agreed, a spokesman for the Irish Government has said “nothing has been confirmed”.
“We’re at a stage where there is still no agreement at this point in time,” the spokesman said on Tuesday afternoon. “There is actually no agreement.”
The comments were made following reports suggesting a deal had been agreed between EU and Irish negotiators.
The spokesman said a “number of issues were outstanding”.
He also said the Irish Government’s position on the backstop had not changed.
He added that at the moment the reports of a deal were “only speculation”.
Spokesman for Ireland’s deputy premier Simon Coveney said: “Negotiations between the EU and UK on a withdrawal agreement are ongoing and have not concluded.”
Andrew Gray, head of Brexit at PwC, said: “We welcome the news that the negotiations have progressed and a deal seems now to have been reached between the EU and the UK. However there are still a number of hurdles to be jumped before the deal is binding.
“Whilst today’s developments have reinforced our optimism that a deal between the EU and the UK is the most likely outcome, we still urge business to continue preparing for both a deal and no deal scenario until the deal is ratified.
“Whilst there is still uncertainty about the exact details of our future relationship with the EU, the emerging political agreement will provide helpful clarity on the boundaries of the relationship, which should allow businesses to progress with medium-term planning for post-Brexit scenarios. We urge businesses to continue to prioritise this.”