The British government has endorsed Tuesday’s draft Brexit deal with the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Wednesday after a five-hour meeting of her cabinet.
« The cabinet’s collective decision is that the government must approve the draft agreement, » Theresa May said in a brief address to 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister added that the withdrawal agreement endorsed by her cabinet was « the best that could be negotiated » and assured that she would defend it on Thursday in the House of Commons.
The decision came after a « long, detailed and passionate debate, » May said in a brief statement to the press.
« This is a decisive step that will allow us to move forward and finalize the agreement, » she added. According to her, this agreement is in the interest of « the whole of the United Kingdom ».
The text endorsed by London will be published in the evening.
Guy Verhofstadt positive
The European Parliament’s coordinator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, expressed his satisfaction soon after the announcement of the British government’s green light for the EU’s proposed withdrawal from the UK.
« We tried to do the best after the difficult decision taken by the British to leave the European Union, » he said.
According to the former Belgian Prime Minister, the agreement reached should help maintain a « close relationship » between the United Kingdom and the 27 EU Member States in the future.
The priority of the European Parliament was to protect the rights of European citizens residing across the Channel, he then recalled, believing that this agreement would allow it.
« A major step towards orderly withdrawal » says Barnier
« A major step has been taken towards the orderly withdrawal » of the United Kingdom from the European Union, said Wednesday evening the chief negotiator of the Commission, Michel Barnier, after the approval of the British government to the draft agreement on Brexit. This text, 585 pages long, translates into legal language the sometimes ambiguous compromises concluded in several key files between Europeans and British.
The rights of expatriates, the bill of divorce and the Irish question – on which the negotiations have long stumbled – are the main points addressed in the draft agreement.
In particular, the text provides for the introduction of a « backstop » to avoid the return of a physical boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if no solution is found before end of the transition period – planned for December 2020 -. This back-stop would be in the form of a customs arrangement for the whole of the United Kingdom with « deeper » provisions for Northern Ireland in customs and regulatory terms.