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Brexit deal - what happens next?

15th Nov 2018 / By Alistair Driver

On Wednesday night, Theresa May appeared to have made some tentative progress on a Brexit deal. But things quickly started to unravel on Thursday morning. 

So where do we stand now? 

What's in the Agreement?

On Wednseday evening, following a lengthy meeting, the Cabinet gave its backing to a Withdrawal Agreement between UK and UK negotiators, set out in a 585-page document. Key points included: 

  • A 21-month transition period after we leave on March, 2019.
  • A broad outline for a future EU Trade Deal, to be negotiated during the transition period, that envisages 'a free trade area and deep co-operation on goods, with zero tariffs and quotas'.
  • A backstop meaning that Northern Ireland would stay aligned to some EU rules on things like food products and goods standards if no trade deal is agreed by the end of the transition period.
  • A £39 billion Divorce Bill 
  • Commitments on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.
  • The end of free movement to be replaced by a skills-based immigration policy. 
  • The Common Agricultural Policy to be replaced by a new domestic policy based on 'public money for public goods'


What happens next?

The draft deal needs to be approved at an EU summit on November 25 and signed off by the EU major EU-decision-making bodies. The UK Parliament then has to vote on it in December, which, if things get this far, would be the biggest obstacle to a deal. 

You can read more about the deal and timelines for the different eventualities on the BBC website. 

The political background was further clouded by the resignations of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey on Thursday, who both described the agreement as a betrayal of the original Brexit vote. These were accompanies by a number of junior ministerial resignations.

This highlighted just how difficult it would be to get the deal through Parliament. As well as pro-Brexit MPs, various other Parties and factions oppose it for various reasons, including the DUP, whose support Mrs May relies on, over the implications for Northern Ireland's relationship with the rest of the UK, and the SNP because it ignores Scotland's wishes. Labour and the Liberal Democtrats have indicated they are likely to vote against it.