In Brief

Theresa May announces draft Brexit deal done

Hard-Brexit Tories and DUP call for ministers to block proposed withdrawal agreement

Theresa May has called a special cabinet meeting for later today, after UK and EU officials reached an agreement on the draft text of a Brexit deal.

After months of tortuous negotiations, May will seek cabinet ministers’ backing of the draft text at a 2pm meeting, following a series of one-on-one meetings between the PM and senior ministers at Downing Street last night.

Ministers were given the chance to look over key elements of the agreement, but were forbidden from taking any of the documentation out of the building in an attempt to minimise leaks.

While the exact details of the 500-page agreement are not yet known, the BBC is reporting that the agreement includes provisions “to guarantee there will not be physical border checks reintroduced in Northern Ireland”, which had become one of the major stumbling blocks of the deal.

Several key hard-Brexit Tories have called for the agreement to be blocked, The Guardian reports, with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson describing the deal as “vassal state stuff”, which would see the UK “bound by laws over which it had no say, which was ‘utterly unacceptable’”.

DUP leader Nigel Dodds has also already indicated that his party, which currently props up the May government, considers the agreement unworkable on the basis that it “appears to be a UK-wide customs agreement but [with] deeper implications for Northern Ireland both on customs and single market”.

The meeting later today could well be the ultimate test of May’s prime ministership, with her party unlikely to continue to back her as leader should she present an agreement that cabinet rejects.

May might have made it to the end of the day without losing any cabinet ministers, but there are “fresh question marks” over Michael Gove and Sajid Javid, The Times says, after what many on both sides of the Brexit debate will consider a “betrayal” by the prime minister.

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