Britain's May Announces Agreement With Europe on Brexit

Britain's May Announces Agreement With Europe on Brexit

Britain's May Announces Agreement With Europe on Brexit

Sunday's summit is meant to conclude almost two years of complex and often acrimonious negotiations on how Britain and the European Union will function after their March 29 divorce.

Following the announcement of the draft declaration, the British parliament said Prime Minister Theresa May will make an "emergency statement" to MPs on Thursday.

On Wednesday Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez repeated a threat to sink the whole Brexit deal if Madrid's concerns on Gibraltar were not met.

Downing Street has repeatedly made clear that an agreement is needed on the future framework - which sets out aspirations in areas like trade and security co-operation - in order to press ahead with the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement.

The PM faced a strong push back from Spain over the status of Gibraltar in the "divorce deal".

The document does reassert the plan for both sides to "build and improve on the single customs territory" already negotiated in the withdrawal agreement.

Speaking to lawmakers in Berlin, Merkel said that while her government backs the agreement "we still have the reservations of Spain and I can't say how we will solve this issue".

British Prime Minister Theresa May was due Thursday to meet Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency until the end of the year.

Negotiations to secure an orderly Brexit deal will go down to the wire after Theresa May said she would return to Brussels for more talks on the eve of a planned signing summit.

The DUP has warned May to "keep her side of the bargain" on Brexit, which means it will not support the final deal in parliament.

Meanwhile, the EU's two most powerful countries, Germany and France, are divided over the Sunday summit.

The EU leaders are due to meet at a summit in Brussels on Sunday to endorse both documents.

Spain has been seeking guarantees that any post-Brexit negotiations on the status of Gibraltar - a British territory surrounded by Spain and sea, which Madrid lays a claim to - remain between itself and the United Kingdom, without giving a say to the EU.

However, risks remain elevated until both the draft agreement and political declaration get passed by the European Union and UK Parliament.

"The British people want Brexit to be settled, they want a good deal that sets us on a course for a brighter future, and they want us to come together as a country and to move on to focus on the big issues at home, like our NHS", said Mrs May. May's nominal allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which have propped up her minority government, have also said they'll vote it down. She is battling adversaries in her own Conservative Party who are plotting to oust her while members of her Cabinet are pushing her get a better deal.

Before leaving for Brussels, she will face opponents of the agreement Wednesday during the prime minister's weekly question-and-answer session in the House of Commons.

Downing Street has always stressed that the 585-page legally binding withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of the UK's departure from the European Union - including a "divorce bill" estimated at £39 billion - can only be finalised alongside the shorter declaration setting out the two sides' aspirations for their future relations.

They will also start to work on the declaration setting out the EU's future relationship with the UK.

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