UK, Irish cabinets to rule on Brexit ‘deal’
The UK and Irish cabinets will today (Wednesday) consider the draft Brexit withdrawal treaty after negotiators say they made a breakthrough on the British border in Ireland.
If agreed it could clear the way for an EU leaders’ summit at the end of November where the withdrawal agreement could be signed and sent to the European and London parliaments for approval.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May risks her leadership as she seeks cabinet backing for the agreement as her right-wing colleagues criticised her approach.
Former Brexit “bulldog” David Davis tweeted: “This is the moment of truth. This is the fork in the road. Do we pursue a future as an independent nation or accept EU domination, imprisonment in the customs union and 2nd class status. Cabinet and all Conservative MPs should stand up, be counted and say no to this capitulation.”
The 500-page deal agreed in Brussels yesterday involves a temporary UK-wide customs arrangement, including special provisions for Northern Ireland. It will eliminate the risk of borders emerging that block trade within Ireland and between Britain and Northern Ireland.
It was seen as a big concession by May and will result in deeper regulatory provisions requiring Northern Ireland to remain aligned with the EU.
Pro-leave Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, said the Dublin government would have more say in some aspects of the governing of Northern Ireland than London.
Johnson also urged his ex-cabinet colleagues to “chuck it out”, warning that the proposals made a “nonsense of Brexit”.
Brexit extremist Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, said: “It is a failure of the government’s negotiating position, it is a failure to deliver on Brexit and it is potentially dividing up the United Kingdom.”
The right-wing Tory told the BBC that he had not called for a no-confidence vote in May’s leadership “but there comes a point at which the policy and the individual become so intimately connected that it will be very hard to carry on supporting this policy”.
Asked if he would contact the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative backbench MPs about May’s position, he made a very limited endorsement of his party leader: “Not in the next 24 hours.”
Pro-Brexit MPs say they will oppose an Irish backstop that traps the UK within the EU trade forever.
But May’s team appeared confident it could get a parliamentary majority.
Chief whip Julian Smith told the media: “I am confident that we will get this through parliament and that we can deliver on what the prime minister committed to on delivering Brexit.”
Pro-EU protesters demand a people’s vote on the Brexit crisis. Picture credit: Eurasia Times