May, maybe not: Brexit row sparks resignations

May, maybe not: Brexit row sparks resignations

Theresa May in Brussels.

It is one of the most contentious issues surrounding any deal struck over the UK's withdrawal, with potentially tens of thousands of jobs on the line in Ireland and the country's Department of Finance calculating a no-deal Brexit could lower Ireland's GDP by 4.5 per cent in 10 years' time. She now faces a serious threat by eurosceptic politicians, who are threatening to attempt to remove her as head of the Conservative Party by sending 48 letters of "no confidence" to the chair of the party's organizing committee, which would trigger a leadership contest.

Mrs May announced that a deal had been reached, and approved by cabinet, on Wednesday evening.

The deal would also need to get the stamp of approval from MPs and, finally, the 27 other European Union member states.

The draft, which was initially backed by May's Cabinet, is now heading to the European Union for approval.

"The government is in chaos", Corbyn said.

The Brexit transition period can be extended beyond December 31, 2020, if there is still no agreement on a future relationship.

The political declaration envisages "a free trade area and deep co-operation on goods, with zero tariffs and quotas".

The UK will not be able to withdraw unilaterally from that arrangement.

The hard issue in the talks was the Northern Irish "backstop", an insurance policy to avoid a return to controls between the British province and EU-member Ireland which could threaten the 1998 peace accord which ended 30 years of violence.

"But one simple fact remains and that is that nobody has produced any alternative proposal which both delivers on the referendum and also ensures that there's no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", she added.

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May in parliament had already threatened to pull its support from the government if the backstop meant the province was treated differently from the rest of mainland Britain.

The biggest sticking point remains over what is termed as a Northern Ireland backstop, which leaves the EU with the option of keeping the whole of the United Kingdom within a common Customs Union if a future trading relationship fails to be thrashed out during the 21-month transition period, set to run until December 2021.

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The prime minister accepted there were "concerns about the backstop" solution to the Irish border question within the deal, which Brexit supporters said could keep Britain tied indefinitely into a customs union.

The embattled PM repeated the qualities of her draft withdrawal agreement with the European Union tonight.

He had hoped a definitive vote would end years of Tory feuding over Europe which had dogged previous party leaders including John Major and Margaret Thatcher.

What else is in the agreement?

Rees-Mogg told reporters: "The deal risks Brexit because it is not a proper Brexit".

"The government simply can not put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit Secretary and his predecessor have rejected", he said.

Vara said the draft agreement "leaves the United Kingdom in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation".

As the agreement set off reverberations in Westminster and the markets, European Council president Donald Tusk scheduled a meeting on November 25 to "finalise and formalise" the pact.

The German chancellor said that a no-deal Brexit would be the "worst and most chaotic scenario" but clearly signalled her reluctance to yield more ground to the British side.

A junior minister preceded Raab's departure and three ministers followed as furious Brexiteers plotted openly to oust May as Conservative leader, delivering serious blows to her authority.

If Mrs May loses the vote, we enter uncharted territory.

The YouGov poll, conducted after the Prime Minister's deal with Brussels was unveiled, found that 54% of voters were in favour of remaining in the bloc.

She was greeted by mocking laughter when she said her plan would provide for a "smooth, orderly" Brexit.