Brexit: Cabinet agrees ‘collective’ stance on future EU deal

The cabinet has reached a “collective” agreement on the basis of the UK’s future relationship with the EU after Brexit, Theresa May has said.

Ministers have signed up to a plan to create a free trade area for industrial and agricultural goods with the bloc, based on a “common rule book”.

They also supported what could amount to a “combined customs territory”.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said the plan, agreed after a 12-hour meeting, would “anger many Tory Brexiteers”.

Our political editor said the prime minister had “picked a side” by opting for a closer relationship with the EU than many colleagues desired – and she now had to sell it to her party and the other European leaders.

No 10, she added, hoped the new commitments would unlock the next phase of talks with the rest of the EU but it was not yet clear how many, or what kind, of objections were raised.

Downing Street said the proposals marked a “substantial evolution” in the UK’s position and would resolve outstanding concerns about the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“This is a proposal that I believe will be good for the UK and good for the EU, and I look forward to it being received positively,” Mrs May told the BBC.

One pro-Brexit cabinet minister told the BBC there was “no point” pushing for a vote as “we were well and truly outnumbered by 20 to seven”.

Nicholas Watt, political editor of BBC Newsnight, said the minister also warned Mrs May “it will be a problem” if there is any attempt to “water down plans even further” should the EU reject the UK’s proposals.

The UK said it now wanted to accelerate the negotiations in an effort to secure an agreement by October, but also warned it will step up preparations for leaving on 29 March 2019 without a deal.

The EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier, who earlier suggested the EU would be willing to shift its position if the UK relaxed some of its “red lines”, tweeted his reaction:

The prime minister had gathered her 26 cabinet ministers together at her country residence to try and resolve differences over the shape of the UK’s relations with the EU and break the current deadlock with the EU.


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