May faces Cabinet showdown over Brexit deal

World News

London, Nov 14  British Prime Minister Theresa May will preside over a decisive extraordinary Cabinet meeting on Wednesday in which she will seek the backing of her ministers for a draft technical deal struck between the UK and the EU on Brexit.

May was scheduled to meet Conservative Party frontbenchers at her official Downing Street residence at around 2 p.m. following the weekly Prime Minister’s questions session at the House of Commons, the BBC reported.

There have been calls to reject the deal from both senior Brexiteers and some Remain supporters.

The Tory PM, whose executive wields a minority in the Commons and stays afloat with the confidence and supply of the right-wing Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), met her ministers individually late into Monday to brief them on the roughly 500-page draft deal with Brussels.

She faces the considerable challenge of securing the support of the pro-Brexit ministers in her Cabinet, which includes powerful voices like the Secretary for International Trade Liam Fox and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, as well as those seen as having a tendency towards remaining in the EU.

Numerous political analysts suggested that failure to strike an agreement in the Cabinet meeting would cast doubt on May’s future in office.

Although the details of the technical deal on Brexit were yet to be made public, Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE, which initially broke the story on the deal, said it comprised a solution for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, according to Efe news.

Exactly how to maintain the soft border between Northern Ireland, a UK territory, and the Irish Republic, an EU member state, was a major stumbling block in the Brexit negotiations that sparked division within the UK government.

However, even if May gets unanimous backing from her ministers, she must still pass the draft accord through the Commons.

The draft was set to come up against major opposition from the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, backbench members of the Conservative Party and depending on what the deal would mean for Northern Ireland, potentially the DUP.

The DUP said it would not back an agreement that would keep Northern Ireland in regulatory alignment with its southern neighbour as a measure to keep a tariff-free frontier and preserve the freedom of movement for goods and people in the region.

The UK is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, with or without a deal.

British voters narrowly opted to withdraw from the bloc in a 2016 referendum called by erstwhile Prime Minister David Cameron who resigned the day after the vote. – IANS

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