Theresa May secures Cabinet’s support for draft Brexit withdrawal agreement

Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet agreed to the draft withdrawal agreement after a five-hour long meeting which began this afternoon. She will now have to win Parliament's approval for the deal, likely in early December

Theresa May's Cabinet has agreed to a draft withdrawal agreement for Brexit (Source: Andy Rain/EPA)
Theresa May's Cabinet has agreed to a draft withdrawal agreement for Brexit (Source: Andy Rain/EPA)

Theresa May has managed to obtain the agreement from her cabinet on a draft European Union withdrawal agreement.

In a statement, May said Cabinet's decision to accept the agreement "was not taken lightly", but that she firmly believed "with my head and my heart" that the agreement is in the best interests of all the United Kingdom.

The statement comes after a five-hour long crucial cabinet meeting, where May sought to get the backing of her senior ministers on a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

"The decision protects jobs and the union," May said.

"This is a decision that will come under intense scrutiny, but the decision was to build a future for our country or to go back to square one and fail on the promise of the referendum."

The British Prime Minister said she would be "explaining" her decisions in the Commons on Thursday.

May will now have to win Parliament’s backing for the agreement, with the BBC saying the vote could take place around 7 December.

The draft withdrawal agreement addresses the issue of the Northern Ireland “backstop”, aiming to provide a guarantee that there will be no reintroduction of physical checks at the border with the Republic of Ireland, in the event that the EU and UK fail to agree on a trade deal without physical borders.

Earlier today, ambassadors of the EU's member states held a Brexit briefing in Brussels, where they were reportedly shown a presentation on the scope and substance of the draft agreement, and also discussed plans in the case of a no-deal.

May was meant to hold a press conference after her cabinet meeting tonight, but this was cancelled in favour of a press statement, in response to complaints from MPs that the Prime Minister should not take journalists’ questions before she answers questions in the chamber tomorrow.

Reports said the draft agreement’s text, together with an outline of the political declaration on the future framework, will be published later this evening.

Possibility of a no confidence vote

There have been rumours of a no confidence vote in May, which would happen if 15% of her MPs - 48 of them - were to write a latter to Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, demanding one.

A number of MPs have already sent letters, with reports claiming that Brady has received more than 40.

While a no confidence vote would not necessarily bring May down, it would indicate that the Brexit deal might not pass the Commons without the large scale support of the Labour Party.

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