D-Day for May as she seeks backing for draft Brexit deal

The sun rises as seen in Parliament Square with the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the foreground in London, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to persuade her divided Cabinet on Wednesday that they have a choice between backing a draft Brexit deal with the European Union or plunging the U.K. into political and economic uncertainty. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
FILE - In this Tuesday March 28, 2017 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, sitting below a painting of Britain's first Prime Minister Robert Walpole, signs the official letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, in 10 Downing Street, London, invoking Article 50 of the bloc's key treaty, the formal start of exit negotiations. Britons voted in June to leave the bloc after four decades of membership. (Christopher Furlong/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE- In this Wednesday, March 29, 2017 file photo, EU Council President Donald Tusk holds British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit letter in notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty at a press conference in Brussels. After months of stalled talks, false starts and setbacks, negotiators from Britain and the European Union struck a proposed divorce deal Tuesday Nov. 13, 2018, to provide for the U.K.'s smooth exit from the bloc. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 file photo, British Prime Minister Theresa May waits for the arrival of European Council President Donald Tusk prior to a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk during an EU summit in Brussels. After months of stalled talks, false starts and setbacks, negotiators from Britain and the European Union struck a proposed divorce deal Tuesday Nov. 13, 2018, to provide for the U.K.'s smooth exit from the bloc. But the agreement faces major political hurdles starting Wednesday, when British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to win the approval of her divided Cabinet for a deal many ministers view with skepticism. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)
FILE- In this Wednesday, March 29, 2017 file photo, EU Council President Donald Tusk holds British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit letter in notice of the UK's intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty at a press conference in Brussels. After months of stalled talks, false starts and setbacks, negotiators from Britain and the European Union struck a proposed divorce deal Tuesday Nov. 13, 2018, to provide for the U.K.'s smooth exit from the bloc. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to persuade her divided Cabinet on Wednesday that they have a choice between backing a draft Brexit deal with the European Union or plunging the U.K. into political and economic uncertainty.

May called a special Cabinet meeting after negotiators from Britain and the EU broke a months-long logjam and reached agreement on divorce terms, including a plan to keep the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open after Brexit.

May was meeting with ministers one-on-one Wednesday morning ahead of the Cabinet meeting at 2 p.m. (1400 GMT) in a bid to build agreement and stave off potential resignations.

Pro-Brexit lawmakers in May's Conservative Party — including some members of the Cabinet — say the agreement will leave Britain tethered to the EU after it departs and unable to forge an independent trade policy.

May's supporters argue that the deal is the best on offer, and the alternatives are a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit that would cause huge disruption to people and businesses, or an election that could see the Conservative government replaced by the left-of-center Labour Party.

Former Foreign Secretary William Hague warned "ardent Brexiteers" that if they shoot down May's deal, it could lead to a change of government and a new referendum and "Brexit might never happen at all."

Failure to secure Cabinet backing will leave May's leadership in doubt and the Brexit process in chaos, with exit day just over four months away on March 29.

If Cabinet supports the deal, it needs approval from the EU at a summit in the next few weeks. Then May will need to win backing from Parliament — no easy task, since pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators alike are threatening to oppose it.

The main obstacle to a withdrawal agreement has long been how to ensure there are no customs posts or other checks along the border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit. Britain and the EU agree that there must be no barriers that could disrupt businesses and residents on either side of the border and undermine Northern Ireland's hard-won peace process.

The proposed solution involves a common customs arrangement for the U.K. and the EU, to eliminate the need for border checks, with some provisions that are specific to Northern Ireland.

The solution is intended to be temporary, but pro-Brexit politicians in Britain fear it may become permanent, hampering Britain's ability to strike new trade deals around the world.

Pro-Brexit former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the agreement would make his favored option, a loose Canada-style trade deal with the bloc, impossible. He tweeted: "Cabinet must live up to its responsibilities & stop this deal."

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, said it would oppose any deal that leaves Northern Ireland subject to different rules to the rest of the U.K. after Brexit.

DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson said the proposed deal threatens "the constitutional and economic integrity of the U.K."

"That is not something we can support," he told the BBC.

May also faces growing opposition from pro-EU lawmakers, who say her proposed Brexit deal is worse than the status quo and the British public should get a new vote on whether to leave or to stay.

Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who is deputy to the legislature's Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt, said the real problem during the negotiations "lies within the U.K., within the government, within the Tory party, between the parties, because there has not been any agreement over the relationship with the EU between any of them over the last two years."

"That is the real problem, because if the U.K. had a single agreed line, backed by the majority of parties and the majority of MPs, then the whole situation would not be so unclear."

Must Read

Trump's shrinking trade appeal evident in North...

Aug 22, 2016

North Carolina may be the state most pivotal to Donald Trump's White House bid, and the audience...

US home sales fell in July amid inventory shortage

Aug 24, 2016

US sales of existing homes down 3.2 percent in July amid fewer listings, higher prices

The hidden risk to the economy in corporate...

Aug 24, 2016

America has a debt problem, and the big borrower this time may surprise you: Corporate America

US wants to force lower speeds on truck and bus...

Aug 26, 2016

The U.S. wants to forcibly limit how fast trucks, buses and other large vehicles can drive on the...

USDA to reopen offices closed after email threats

Aug 31, 2016

The Agriculture Department will reopen some offices that were closed Tuesday after an unspecified...

Sign up now!

About Us

In The Headline sought to bring professionalism back into journalism, bringing you only the most exclusive and the most impactive news from all over the globe.

Contact us: sales[at]intheheadline.com