The EU and Britain on Thursday agreed a draft declaration laying out plans for “ambitious, broad, deep and flexible” relations after Brexit, setting the stage for the divorce to be finalised at a weekend summit.
The EU Council President Donald Tusk said the 26-page declaration, outlining how Britain will work with the bloc on trade, security, the environment and other issues, had been agreed “in principle” and would now be sent to the remaining 27 member states for approval.
The pound leapt by about one per cent against the dollar and also firmed against the euro on news of the declaration, struck after through-the-night talks between British and EU negotiators.
Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May hopes the declaration will convince sceptical lawmakers to approve her vision for the UK’s departure from the bloc.
“This is the right deal for the UK,” she said after updating her cabinet on the text.
“The British people want this to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.”
And MPs in London later in the day, May said Brexit negotiations were at a “critical moment”. A special summit of all 28 EU leaders to sign the final Brexit deal is planned for Sunday, with May set to travel to Brussels the night before to finalise preparations.
First, the texts must be cleared by a meeting of top EU diplomats on Friday. The political declaration says future ties will be wide-ranging, covering economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defence.
While the declaration has no legal weight, May will hope that ardent Brexiteers will be appeased by references to Britain developing “an independent trade policy” and spelling out an end to free movement of citizens between the EU and UK —two of the key demands of the Leave campaign.
She has been under intense pressure from all sides over the withdrawal deal, with a slew of ministers resigning in protest and some of her own party MPs launching a bid—stalled for now—to unseat her. -AFP