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Theresa May says 95% of Brexit deal is done



Theresa May will tell MPs “95%” of the UK’s divorce deal with the EU has been agreed.

The prime minister will deliver a bullish message to the House of Commons later on Monday, when she will state “the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement is now clear”.

Last week, the EU ruled “not enough progress” has been achieved in Brexit talks and so shelved plans for a special summit next month to sign off on a UK divorce deal.

However, Mrs May will point to advances in a number of areas to suggest an overall exit agreement is close.

So, what has already been settled?


In a draft of the UK’s withdrawal agreement published in March, issues concerning the rights of EU citizens living in Britain – as well as UK citizens living in the EU – were said to have been finalised.

Mrs May has since guaranteed the rights of EU citizens in the UK even in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.


In the March draft agreement, the UK’s financial settlement was also marked in green to imply it has been settled.

The Treasury estimates Britain’s divorce bill will cost between £35bn and £39bn.

However, the prime minister has suggested she could reconsider handing over the cash if there is no overall deal with the EU.

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The so-called “implementation period” – otherwise known as the Brexit transition period – was also marked in green back in March.

It has been agreed the UK will maintain the status quo of EU membership between the date of Brexit on 29 March next year, and 31 December 2020.

The government argues this will mean businesses will only need to make one set of changes required by Brexit, as new trade relationships are negotiated and put into place after 2019.

Mrs May has since opened the possibility of the transition period being extended beyond 21 months as she struggles to solve the Irish border issue.

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PM: Extending Brexit transition on the table


In her address to MPs on Monday, the prime minister will reveal the UK and Spain have “developed a protocol and a set of underlying memoranda relating to Gibraltar, heralding a new era in our relations”.

The issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty, which has long been disputed by Spain, had been expected to be a key flashpoint in Brexit talks.

Soon after the Leave vote in 2016, then Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo claimed Brexit “opens up new possibilities” for Spain to take control of Gibraltar, adding: “The Spanish flag on ‘the Rock’ is much closer than before”.

However, the status of Gibraltar after Brexit appears to have been settled without further tensions between London and Madrid.

The post-Brexit status of Gibraltar appears to have been settled


The prime minister will also hail progress on the issue of Britain’s military presence in Cyprus.

Mrs May will tell MPs on Monday: “We have developed a protocol relating to the UK sovereign base areas in Cyprus.”

Two UK military bases have remained on the Mediterranean island since Cyprus’s independence from Britain.


Along with citizens’ rights and the UK’s divorce bill, Northern Ireland is another key part of Britain’s withdrawal agreement.

The prime minister will tell MPs on Monday of settled agreements “on the preservation of the particular rights for UK and Irish citizens – and the special arrangements between us such as the Common Travel Area – all of which have existed since before either the UK or Ireland ever became members of the European Economic Community”.

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A day of pro and anti-Brexit rallies

But, what remains to be settled?


Despite the progress in some areas relating to Northern Ireland, the issue of the Irish border continues to act as a blockage in Brexit negotiations.

Both the UK and the EU are committed to the idea of a backstop solution to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, should a future UK-EU trade relationship not avert this.

But, both sides remain at loggerheads over their competing backstop proposals.

Mrs May is adamant Northern Ireland should not in any way be split off from the rest of the UK after Brexit, as Brussels has suggested; while the EU are resisting Britain’s demand for any backstop solution to be time-limited.

NEWRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 02: A bus crossing along the border between Northern and southern Ireland passes a sign campaigning against a so called hard Brexit, on February 2, 2017 in Newry, Northern Ireland.
The Irish border issue is still a key blockage in negotiations


Mrs May’s claim 95% of the Brexit deal is complete only applies to the UK’s withdrawal agreement, with the EU having yet to show any sign of dropping their resistance to the prime minister’s Chequers plan for the future UK-EU relationship.

Despite the prime minister hailing “important progress made on issues like security, transport and services”, Brussels has told Mrs May her plans for an economic partnership based on a “common rulebook” and a “combined customs territory” will not work.

Labour MP Chris Leslie, who wants a second Brexit referendum, claimed the prime minister’s suggestion a Brexit deal is 95% complete is “utter misrepresentation” and “designed to make you think Brexit is nearly over”.

He added a withdrawal agreement is a “merely clearing of the throat” before “arduous” trade deal negotiations lasting, Mr Leslie suggested, more than a further five years.

What is the Chequers Proposal?


Brexit: Chequers proposal explained

And remember…


A mantra often quoted in EU negotiations portrays how any one part of the withdrawal deal unravelling could lead to a whole agreement falling apart.

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