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THERESA MAY FACES a potential motion of ‘no confidence’ in her leadership following a busy day in Westminster following yesterday’s Brexit breakthrough.

The British Prime Minister held a defiant press conference this evening after a letter of no confidence in her leadership was submitted by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

That move came after a number of ministers, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, resigned in opposition to the draft Brexit deal agreed between British and EU negotiators.

While news of the agreement was met with a warm reaction in Dublin and Brussels, it sparked fury among the Brexiteers – chiefly the DUP, who are currently supporting May’s government.

The Cabinet agreed to back May, but it certainly wasn’t unanimous with resignations following swiftly this morning and uproar from Conservative Brexiteers and other parties in Westminster.

The Prime Minister stood defiant in a press conference outside 10 Downing Street this evening, saying she is determined to “see this through”.  However opposition to the withdrawal plan remains.

Our blog followed all the latest developments as they happened throughout the day, which you can look at below.

Before we get into developments today, here’s a quick recap of what happened last night:

  • After a lengthy Cabinet meeting, UK Prime Minister Theresa May emerged from Downing Street with the news that her Cabinet had backed the Brexit deal agreed with the EU.
  • This was welcomed warmly by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
  • It was not warmly received by the DUP and senior Tory Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg.
  • The deal itself will see no hard border on the island of Ireland, and regulatory alignment for Northern Ireland until both sides agree a new deal

More on this here, with the Irish reaction here

Theresa May is set to make a statement at 10.30am this morning, it has been confirmed.

The most senior resignation so far this morning has been Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

He’s actually been the head of the UK negotiating team since July, when he took the reins from previous minister David Davis.

Raab said today that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the UK and that an “indefinite” backstop arrangement meant the EU held a veto over the UK’s ability to exit. 

“Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU,” he said in a statement. 

As you might expect, the UK papers have gone with their own idiosyncratic takes on the Brexit deal.

A defiant Daily Mail front page features a photo of May with the headline “I stand to fight” while The Guardian’s headline describes a “split nation”.

The most striking image today, however, can be found in The New European.

ksdhskgh

My colleague Cónal Thomas has more here

Rebellious Tory MPs are as dangerous to May’s chances of getting a vote on the Brexit deal passed in the House of Commons as opposition MPs are.

Soon after the prime minister’s announcement last night, there was soon talk of a vote of no confidence brewing against May.

What would be needed for that to happen?

In short, 48 letters of no confidence would need to be submitted to the House of Commons to trigger a vote on May’s leadership. 

With the DUP helping to secure the government’s majority, May is in a very precarious position at present. 

Speculation is rife on who may follow Raab out the exit door of Theresa May’s Cabinet.

UK political journalists reporting that as many as six could follow today.

The opposition Labour government have been sticking the knife in over Raab’s resignation, given he was the man in charge of leading the negotiations.

Owen Smith MP told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire: “The very person who negotiated it and who ostensibly helped present it to the cabinet resigned. It is an extraordinary state of affairs.

The thing I think people need to remember from Theresa May’s speech last night is she conceded it is not a choice between no deal and this deal – it is a choice between no deal, this deal and not doing Brexit.

And another minister gone.

This time it’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey.

“The deal you put before the Cabinet yesterday does not honour the result of the referendum,” she tells May in a letter. 

“It also threatens the integrity of the United Kingdom, which as a Unionist is a risk I cannot be party to.”

The first resignation this morning came from Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara, by the way.

So that’s three now – Vara, Raab and McVey – with more expected to follow.

More on the possibility of a no confidence vote in May: Tory Brexiteer Anne Marie Morris has told the BBC she believes that 48 of her colleagues have written to the chair of the backbench 1922 committee calling for a no confidence vote.

It’s not enemies on all sides for May, however.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has told the Today programme that the agreement isn’t “perfect” but said it will be good for Britain. 

“Everyone can find a point in this that they may disagree with, but you have got to look at the deal as a whole,” he said. 

It doesn’t sound good when you put it like this, does it?

Who’s next to resign?

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reckons it will be International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

Sky News has been slowly zooming in closer and closer to the 10 Downing Street for the past 20 minutes.

It’s slightly unnerving.

10 downing

AND ANOTHER ONE GONE.

This time it’s Suella Braverman, a junior minister at the Brexit department.

Line up all your best Braverman puns, please.

Meanwhile, Theresa May has left Downing Street and is on her way to Westminster.

She’s due to address the House of Commons at 10.30am.

Another resignation – albeit not a senior one.

Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department of Education Anne-Marie Trevelyan is gone.

She says the negotiations have been built on the UK “trying to appease the EU”.

This isn’t a bad gag, to be fair.

And here’s Suella Braverman’s resignation letter.

She says: “Firstly, the proposed Northern Ireland backstop is not Brexit. It is not what the British people – or my constituents – voted for in 2016.”

The House of Commons is filling up. May’s statement due shortly.

They’re talking about something that’s not Brexit, but the din of chatter means few are listening.

house of commons

And here she is. May has begun her statement. Watch it here.

She says it’s “not the final deal” but a “draft treaty”.

She says it will ensure Britain leaves the EU in a “smooth and orderly way”.

Cue derisive laughter, and she pauses for a bit.

She says the deal delivers in ways that people said “simply cannot be done”. 

May says the deal reached is an ambitious one, better than what Norway or Canada have.

“The full legal text has now been agreed in principle,” she says. “We’ve secured the rights of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and the 1 million UK citizens in the EU.”

There’s a lot of heckling going on.

may downing

She says the Irish border issue has an “insurance policy” – she’s talking about the backstop here.

“I do not pretend this has been a comfortable process,” she says.

This is an arrangement we both said we never want to have to use. While some pretend otherwise, there is no deal that delivers the Brexit deal people voted for without this insurance policy. The EU will not negotiate any future partnership without it. 

The UK-wide temporary customs arrangement safeguards the integrity of the UK, she says with one “ha” audible from somewhere in the house.

“If we choose the backstop, the withdrawal agreement is explicit that this is temporary… and there is also a mechanism by which the backstop could be terminated,” she says.

“The Brexit talks are about acting in the national interest. It’s about what I believe are the right choices, not the easy ones.”

She says ripping up the backstop would have been irresponsible to the people of Northern Ireland.

“By resolving this issue, we are able to move on to finalising an ambitious future partnership,” she adds.

She says the deal will end “free movement once and for all”.

May is spinning this as a unique deal with the EU that no one else has, and that the NI backstop was the only way to secure the Brexit people wanted.

Given the resignations that have happened already, it remains to be seen how many share her view.

Theresa May says that withdrawing from the EU was always going to be complex and difficult. 

She says a “Brexit in the national interest is possible” and that a “breakthrough” has been made. 

More jeers now, as she says MPs can unite behind the Brexit deal she has secured.

“I choose to deliver for the British people, I choose to do what’s in the national interest,” she concludes.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn now.

He says the deal is a “hugely damaging failure”.

He says May’s deal leaves the UK in a “half-way house where it has no say”.

He says both Brexit ministers have rejected the Brexit deal.

Corbyn says the government must publish the full legal advice, and economic forecasts.

He says the deal is a “leap in the dark”. 

He asks the Prime Minister how confident she is a deal can be done by 2020 that would mean the backstop wouldn’t be needed, as if it’s not done the UK will have to pay a substantial amount.

“The backstop locks Britain into a deal from which it cannot leave without agreement from the EU,” he says. 

He says the backstop creates a border down the Irish Sea, and it is another of Theresa May’s so-called “red lines” that she’s breached. 

jezza

Corbyn says it’s wrong to say that this is Britain taking control back.

He attacks many parts of the deal, and talks of “vague commitments” and “no clarity” in a number of areas.

He says that many EU nationals would have no confidence in the Conservative government delivering an efficient system for them.

“This is not the deal the country was promised,” Corbyn says. He says the choice between this deal and no deal is a “false choice”.

He says people around the country will be worried today.

“The government should withdraw this half-baked deal that doesn’t have the support of parliament, your Cabinet and the British people.”

May gets the chance for a riposte.

She says Corbyn is wrong in saying that the issue of the border in the Irish Sea has been dealt with. She says it took considerable negotiation to convince the EU on this.

She says there is reference to workers’ rights in the deal. 

“I’m not sure what document the right honourable gentleman read,” says May, attacking Corbyn for saying certain topics were left out of the agreement.

“It is a choice of whether or not we go through with a deal that does protect what people voted for,” she says. “Staying in the customs’ union and single market wouldn’t deliver what people voted for…. that is the right deal for Britain and it will be the deal we put before this house.”

Conservative MP Ken Clarke is up now. 

He says the biggest benefit of EU membership was open borders, and asks May for a commitment not to change until it’s known what exactly the change will be. 

And now the Scottish National Party’s Ian Blackford. He’s not impressed at all with the deal, or the prime minister.

“She’s desperate and increasingly looking defeated,” he says. “It’s shocking that not once is Scotland mentioned in the agreement. There are mentions of Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Cyprus, the Isle of Man. Utter contempt has once again been shown to Scotland, its parliament and its people.

If Northern Ireland can stay in the single market, why not Scotland?

“Why does the Prime Minister stand in the face of the legitimate demands of the Scottish government,” he says. “She shakes her head.”

He says she shouldn’t disrespect Scotland, and the price Scotland will pay is already too high for leaving the EU.

“This deal is dead in the water,” he says. “The Prime Minister must go back to Brussels and extend Article 50. We must stay in the single market and customs’ union. Anything else will mean economic chaos. Do the right thing, and we will stick by you.”

scotland commons

May chooses to attack the Scottish National Party for not investing in the NHS.

Blackford isn’t happy but neither is the speaker John Bercow.

“The Prime Minister must be heard,” he says. 

Theresa May says that Scotland wasn’t mentioned in the draft deal because “Scotland. Is. A. Part. Of. The. United. Kingdom.”

Cue more jeers and cheers.

Tory Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith up now.

He says he’s concerned the UK doesn’t have a sovereign right to leave the backstop when it so chooses, as it also needs agreement from the EU. 

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable up now.

He says the government is investing considerably in a no deal contingency.

What is being invested in the event of a no Brexit, he asks.

May responds: “We are making no plans for no Brexit.”

Here’s Conservative John Redwood now.

He says it’d be far better for the UK to invest the money it will spend on negotiating the future relationship with the EU in its national services instead.

May says that the sum of money is considerably less than what the EU originally wanted from the UK as part of its divorce settlement.

Here’s the DUP’s Nigel Dodds now.

He says Theresa May “clearly doesn’t listen”.

Dodds says the choice is subjection to others who may not the UK’s interest at heart.

He says that all those who’ve resigned referenced the integrity of the union.

“The choice is clear. We stand up for the integrity of the United Kingdom, or we stand up for a vassal state, and the break up of the union,” he says. 

Theresa May responds the deal will deliver on the UK’s commitments for Northern Ireland.

“I believe, and there are many aspects of the deal that we agreed, that do preserve the integrity of the United Kingdom,” she says.

The backstop is something neither side wish to see being exercised… there are alternative routes that can bet taken. If the right honourable gentleman is concerned we haven’t considered Northern Ireland… I have remained committed to three things: no hard border in NI, continue to maintain our responsibilities in the Belfast agreement and the integrity of the union.

Back in Westminster, Conservative Anna Soubry says the option of remaining in the EU should be put back to the people of Britain.

The Prime Minister roundly rejects such a suggestion. 

Hillary Benn – Labour MP – asks the Prime Minister to acknowledge that staying in the customs’ union and single market is the best thing for Britain.

Unsurprisingly, May doesn’t share this view. 

Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg has asked Theresa May why he shouldn’t submit a vote of no confidence in her.

May remains defiant under increasing scrutiny as the debate goes on.

Conservative MP Mark Francois says that 84 Conservative MPs will vote against the agreement and the number is “going up by the hour”.

More rumblings for a second referendum.

Conservative Justine Greening says that young people will have to live with the choices made now.

“If a referendum was good enough before, why not know?” she asks.

Again, May dismisses the suggestion. 

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas tells May that her deal is dead, but the Prime Minister gives her short thrift.

The questioning of May was due to end over 10 minutes ago by the way.

We have Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this lunchtime at midday, too.

Wonder what they’ll be talking about…

The creator of political satire The Thick of It summed it all up earlier on.

We know how you feel, Armando.

Resignation watch: Minister Penny Mordaunt has been heavily tipped to resign today.

And she’s just left the House of Commons… *eyes emoji

Rees Mogg was the first to mention a no confidence vote in the house today.

Here’s what he said: “As what my right honourable friend says and what my right honourable friend does no longer match, should I not write to my right honourable friend the member for Altrincham and Sale West?”

Just to recap, that Altrincham MP is the chair of the committee that Conservative MPs have to write to if they want a vote of no confidence in May. 

There’s been quite a number of Conservative MPs pushing for a second referendum today, alongside those criticising the deal.

Sarah Wollaston is the latest. She says crashing out of the EU with no deal would be “unforgivable”. 

Here’s the DUP’s Nigel Dodds calling on people to stand up for the UK by tweeting a picture of himself… standing up.

A “Hotel California Brexit deal” is how it’s being described now by Conservative Dr Julian Lewis.

I’ve heard it all now. 

May has taken to repeating herself quite a bit now, as the questions have also taken on a familiar feel.

Switching over to Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil now, which gets underway in the next few minutes. 

Leaders’ Questions is getting under way now.

Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien first up to put questions to Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

You can watch it here

“The alternative does not bear thinking about,” says O’Brien, stressing the importance of reaching a Brexit deal.

But he expresses fears that Brexiteer politicians could scupper the deal.

“Do you accept that these resignations give very negative indications?” he asks Coveney.

He asks if the Taoiseach or the Tánaiste have met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and if he expects changes to the current draft of the Brexit deal.

coveney brexit

Coveney begins by thanking all parties for their support to the deal, and praises the Irish negotiating teams at the Brexit table as well as chief negotiator Michel Barnier for his support.

He says many were sceptical the guarantees previously offered by the UK could be translated into a legal text. 

“This agreement involves compromise, flexibility,” the Tánaiste says.

“What we have is a deal and a text that follows through on the commitments and does so in a way that protects Ireland’s core interests now and into the future. Of course there are challenges to accepting any package.

Coveney says Theresa May has shown a “remarkable capacity to get things done in difficult circumstances”. 

FF’s O’Brien reiterates his question on if Coveney or Varadkar had met Jeremy Corbyn.

“There’s no triumph in negotiating something that can’t be delivered,” he says. O’Brien says now is not the time for celebration. 

He says the government has given triumphalist statements to newspapers today, and that this is irresponsible. 

The Fianna Fáil TD also wants to know if the government will publish its contingency plans. 

Coveney says the Irish government must be careful to avoid making it seem like it can influence British politics.

“We will have a detailed debate here too,” he says on the Brexit deal. He says the government hasn’t “claimed a victory” on the Brexit deal.

“But we do have an obligation to the Irish people to explain what has been agreed,” he says. “It is the role of government to explain to people why this is no threat to nationalism, or unionism… this is a practical compromise from all sides to move forward that protects national interest.”

He says it ensures Ireland won’t be “collateral damage” in Brexit. 

pearse doherty brexit

Now Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty is up. 

He says Brexit is bad for everyone, and accepts there is no such thing as a good Brexit.

Doherty acknowledges the deal mitigates the worst aspects of Brexit. 

He says the DUP has been engaged in “brash”, “incendiary” rhetoric in the past 48 hours. 

In a brief interlude, here’s the latest from Westminster:

  • Dominic Raab has been speaking to the BBC, with an interview to be published soon. He says the deal won’t get through parliament.

  • There are reports that Michael Gove – who lost a leadership battle with Theresa May in 2016 – has been offered the job of Brexit secretary.
  • And Theresa May has ruled out extending Article 50 – meaning that the UK is still set to leave the EU in March. 

Back to Coveney.

He says he hopes it won’t be about a majority and a minority in Northern Ireland vehemently disagreeing with each other.

He wants to retain the status quo and ensure everyone that the deal can work for them. 

“For anyone to take absolutist positions has been unhelpful in terms of trying to find a way forward,” the Tánaiste says. 

Coveney has singled out Theresa May for praise a couple of times now, in getting the deal through.

Doherty says that Ireland needs to focus on what it needs to do now.

“I think it’s important that the legal advice in relation to the permanency and certainty be provided to this house,” he says. 

Coveney says the legal advice in relation to this text is “EU legal advice”.

He says the Attorney General may have a view, but that the bulk comes from the EU’s extensive legal teams.

In non-Brexit news, Peadar Tóibín has resigned from Sinn Féin.

Story on TheJournal.ie very soon.

Despite the pressure on all sides, Theresa May remains bullish according to this report by ITV News’ Carl Dinnen.

The head of the committee who’d have to action the vote of no confidence in Theresa May has said he doesn’t expect anything to happen today… yet.

That’s it for me from now.

I’m leaving you in the capable hands of Céimin Burke for the next while, with more resignations and challenges to Theresa May likely in the afternoon. 

Good afternoon, Céimin Burke here to take you through all the developments as Theresa May tries to sell her Brexit deal to MPs in Westminster.

The leader of the Scottish National Party has said that the deal strengthens the case for Scottish indepencence. She added that she has “no doubt” that Scots will choose independence when the time comes.

The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste met with Northern Ireland parties this morning to discuss the withdrawal agreement. Representatives from Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Green Party were at the meeting.

A government spokesperson said there was a good discussion of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and they agreed to meet again in a similar format.

The Westminster correspondent for The Sun, Harry Cole, is reporting that Jacob Rees-Mogg has submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May.

Earlier the Head of the 1922 Committee, which deals with motions of confidence in the Conservative Party, said it has no announcements planned.

Flag

Rees-Mogg is the head of the European Research Group (ERG) of eurosceptic Tory lawmakers.

A spokesperson for the group says Rees-Mogg will be submitting the no confidence letter today. A leadership challenge is triggered if 48 Conservatives write such letters.

The ERG represents about 50 Tory MPs.

Here’s a copy of Rees-Mogg’s letter courtesy of Owen Bennett from the City AM business newspaper. 

Whether the no confidence motion will actually materialise remains up in the air.

Several reporters who staked out the ERG meeting say that not all of its members agree with Rees-Mogg.

Alistair Burt, a junior minister in Britain’s Foreign Office, urged his colleagues not to submit letters.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has turned down the job of Brexit Secretary, the Evening Standard reports.

In a major blow to Theresa May Dominic Raab resigned from the high profile post this morning.

Former Conservative chancellor George Osborne is editor of the Standard.

Speaking to reporters over the howls of a protester Jacob Rees-Mogg says his letter of ‘no confidence’ in Theresa May is not motivated by personal ambition.

Criticising the draft withdrawal agreement Rees-Mogg said it represents a failure of government policy and it “is not Brexit”.

He said the government should go back to Brussels and tell them that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

He added that he believes that 48 letters will be submitted to the 1922 Committee and a ‘no confidence vote’ will be triggered. He said that a leadership contest could happen within “weeks”.

You can read more about the ‘No Confidence’ motion here.

In welcome news for Theresa May Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has said that she will not be resigning from cabinet.

Leadsom was a leading Brexit campaigner and competed against May for the Tory leadership.

Speaking in parliament she said:

I am staying in Government because there is more work to be done to get the Brexit that the Prime Minister wants to deliver to the people, and therefore I am determined to support her to do that.

The BBC’s Norman Smith is reporting that a Tory minister has said that if May’s deal is defeated in parliament he and others will openly campaign for a second referendum.

Check out this explainer for more info on what’s in the withdrawal agreement that Tories are struggling to swallow.

We seem to be in a period of relative calm on an extraordinary day in Westminster.

I’m signing off for now but my colleague Stephen McDermott is taking up letter watch and will keep you updated on any developments. 

Stephen McDermott taking over liveblog duties now for the afternoon. I’ll be seeing you through here for the rest of the evening (assuming Brexit doesn’t bring about the end of the world in the next few hours).

If you have any strong and stable tips or thoughts, you can send them my way via stephen.mcdermott@thejournal.ie or let me know on Twitter at @Ste_McDermott.

And we have another resignation, this time the ironically named Rehman Chishti, who has stood down as vice chairman of the Conservative Party and trade envoy to Pakistan.

As well as expressing disappointment with the Draft withdrawal agreement, he also expressed unhappiness with how the government acted in the Asia Bibi case.

Another Conservative MP has written to the 1922 Committee to express ‘no confidence’ in Theresa May and to request a vote on her leadership. This time it’s Sheryll Murray.

If you were wondering what effect today’s developments have had on the value of the Sterling, here’s the latest from Sky News…

Sterling Source: Sky News

The Scottish National Party aren’t happy with the special treatment being given to Northern Ireland in the draft withdrawal agreement.

The agreement would see the six counties aligned with the single market to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

However, the SNP says that Scotland voted to remain in the European Union in 2016, and that if Northern Ireland will remain aligned in the single market, then Scotland should too.

However, Theresa May dismissed their concerns in the House of Commons earlier.

“Scotland is not specifically mentioned [in the draft withdrawal agreement],” she said. “Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom.”

In Northern Ireland, the Green Party have come out in support of the draft withdrawal agreement, saying it is the “least damaging” arrangement for citizens across Ireland.

Green Party leader in Ireland Eamon Ryan said he was content that the deal protected the Good Friday Agreement and ensured there would be no hard border either in Ireland or in the Irish Sea.

The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have written a joint letter calling for talks on the withdrawal agreement.

In Brussels, European Council president Donald Tusk has said that the EU is prepared for a final deal with the UK in December.

However, he also said the bloc was prepared for a ‘no-deal’ outcome.

Meanwhile, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the withdrawal agreement would work “intensely” to finalise the draft agreement over the next few days.

An emergency EU summit is set to take place on Sunday.

A Sky Data poll has found that almost four times as many Britons would prefer no Brexit than the draft withdrawal agreement agreed by Theresa May.

Nigel Farage has been shouting on Sky News about today’s developments and the draft agreement, saying Theresa May has made a “spectacular mess” of Brexit.

He has accused May of “dishonesty” and “weakness” and said that anyone else would do a better job as prime minister.

The former UKIP leader also believed a Brexit referendum would pass by an even bigger margin if it ran again.

“This is still, in my opinion, what the people want,” he said.

There’s a bit of calm before the storm here ahead of Theresa May’s press conference.

The BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson suggests that we could be in for more of the same of what was heard in the House of Commons today:

Theresa May’s press conference has begun.

She has opened by saying that serving in high office is a “great honour” and says she has done her best in negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU.

“From the very beginning, I have known what I wanted to deliver for the English people: to honour their vote in the referendum,” she said.

Theresa May says a Brexit deal must protect the things important to Britain, such as jobs, security, the integrity of the United Kingdom, and peace in Northern Ireland.

She has reaffirmed her commitment to having no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, saying that difficult decisions have been made to achieve this.

Theresa May now answering questions from the media.

Responding to suggestions that she is now just in office, rather than in power, the prime minister says she is doing her job in “getting the best deal for Britain” and that MPs will be held accountable to their constituents for decisions they make in the House of Commons.

May plays down suggestions she would resign ahead of a potential ‘no confidence’ motion.

She also recognises that while there has been much criticism of the government’s approach to Brexit negotiations, there have been no credible alternatives offered to their approach.

She particularly singled out the backstop agreement to prevent a border in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

“I understand some people feel uncomfortable about details in the backstop … but there’s no deal that can be agreed with the European Union that would avoid a return to the borders of the past in Northern Ireland,” she said.

May says that Brussels will see that the British government has agreed to the draft withdrawal agreement.

“They will see a government that is intent on delivering a deal that is good for the British people. But they will also see that a good deal for Britain is a good deal for the EU as well.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell is the latest to hit out at the draft withdrawal agreement, calling the text a “botched deal” and saying the threat of a hard border was exploited by the EU.

He said: “With three hundred crossing points, no matter who would have tried to locate checkpoints or infrastructure at the border, it would have been circumvented by everyone with ease and regarded with ridicule.

“The inordinate waste of time and resources negotiating to prevent something that was never going to happen is deplorable but has been used by the EU as an enormous bargaining chip.

“Over the next few weeks and months there will be an unprecedented fear campaign.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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