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Dominic Raab Resigns – 15 November 2018

A number of resignations have taken place following the “collective agreement” of the Cabinet to accept the Draft of the Withdrawal Agreement on the 14 November 2018.

Dominic Rabb resigns from his post as Brexit Secretary.

It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister and Brexit Secretary.

I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign. I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.

For my part, I cannot support the proposed deal for two reasons. First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit. The terms of the backstop amount to a hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations. No democratic nation ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangement. That arrangement is now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership. If we accept that, it will severely prejudice the second phase of negotiations against the UK.

Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.

I appreciate that you disagree with my judgment on these issues. I have weighed very carefully the alternative courses of action which the government could take, on which I have previously advised. Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.

My respect for you, and the fortitude you have shown in difficult times, remains undimmed.

Remarks by President Donald Tusk – 15 November 2018

Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting on 15 November 2018, with Brexit EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier. If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a #EUCO to finalise and formalise the #Brexit agreement on Sunday 25 November at 9h30.

I took good note of Prime Minister May’s statement yesterday. Of course, I don’t share the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm about Brexit as such. Since the very beginning, we have had no doubt that Brexit is a lose-lose situation, and that our negotiations are only about damage control.

Given these extremely difficult circumstances, I would like to thank Michel Barnier and his team, especially Sabine Weyand and Stéphanie Riso, for doing this exceptionally hard work. Michel, we all put a lot of trust in you, and rightly so. You have achieved our two most important objectives. First, you ensured the limitation of the damage caused by Brexit and, second, you secured the vital interests and principles of the 27 member states, and of the European Union as a whole. If I weren’t confident that you did your best to protect the interests of the twenty‑seven, and I am familiar with the essence of the document, I would not propose to formalise this deal.

In the next days, we will proceed as follows. The agreement is now being analysed by all the member states. By the end of this week, the EU27 ambassadors will meet in order to share their assessment of the agreement. I hope that there will not be too many comments. They will also discuss the mandate for the Commission to finalise the Joint Political Declaration about the future relations between the EU and the UK. The European ministers will be involved in this process. The Commission intends to agree the declaration about the future with the UK by Tuesday. Over the following 48 hours, the member states will have time to evaluate it, which means that the EU27 Sherpas should conclude this work on Thursday. Then, if nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting, in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement. It will take place on Sunday 25th November at 9:30.

Finally, let me say this to our British friends. As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, both for you and for us.

EU Response to Cabinet Meeting – 14 November 2018

Following the Cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Withdrawal Agreement the European Commission released the following statement which recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations.

Brussels, 14 November 2018

The negotiators of the European Commission and the United Kingdom have today reached a deal on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement.

All aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement have now been finalised and agreed at negotiator level. This agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations. The European Commission therefore recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.

The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, governance, Protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.

The EU and the UK negotiators have agreed on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both will use their best endeavours to have a future agreement concluded before the end of the transition period by 1 July 2020. Should this not be the case, the EU and the UK could jointly extend the transition period. Alternatively, as of January 2021, the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland would apply, subject to a joint review mechanism.

That backstop solution means that a single EU-UK customs territory will be established, which will apply from the end of the transition period until such a time as a subsequent agreement becomes applicable. Northern Ireland will therefore remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK. The single customs territory covers all goods with the exception of fishery and aquaculture products.

The creation of the single customs territory includes the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK.

The outline of the political declaration published today records the progress in reaching an overall understanding on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work based on the outline.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The present Withdrawal Agreement – including the transition period – must take into account the framework of the future relationship. The political declaration must therefore be further developed and agreed in its final form.

In parallel, the European Commission will continue its preparedness and contingency work for all eventualities.

Next steps

The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work on the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship based on the outline published today. It is up to the President of the European Council to decide whether and when to convene a meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government. It will be up to the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement and the joint political declaration on the framework of the future relationship.

Once the Withdrawal Agreement is endorsed by the European Council (Article 50), and before it can enter into force, it needs to be ratified by the EU and the UK. For the EU, the Council of the European Union must authorise the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement, before sending it to the European Parliament for its consent. The United Kingdom must ratify the agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.

Background

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 (read more here). Her letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, formally began the process of UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal formally began on 19 June 2017, following the UK’s general election. On 8 December 2017, the EU and the UK published a Joint Report, setting out the areas of agreement between both sides on withdrawal issues. This was accompanied by a Communication by the European Commission. In March 2018, the European Commission and the United Kingdom published a draft Withdrawal Agreement. This document highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement using a green, yellow and white colour-coding. The future relationship between the EU and the UK will be outlined in a political declaration and will only be negotiated once the UK becomes a third country, i.e. outside of the EU, after 29 March 2019.

Further Information

Questions & Answers: Brexit Negotiations: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement

Questions & Answers: Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

Statement by Michel Barnier 14 Nov 2018

Following the acceptance of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement by the UK cabinet on 14 November 2018, Michel Barnier gave the following statement.

(In English and French, with translation by Google Translate )

Déclaration par Michel Barnier, Brussels, 14 November 2018

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Ce soir, nous venons de publier avec le gouvernement britannique, le projet d’accord complet sur le retrait ordonné du Royaume Uni tel qu’il a été agréé par les négociateurs, des deux côtés.

Tonight we have just published with the British Government the draft comprehensive agreement on the Orderly Withdrawal of the United Kingdom as approved by the negotiators on both sides.

Nous publions également ensemble un plan commenté de la déclaration politique conjointe sur le cadre de notre future relation.

We also publish together a commented plan of the joint political declaration on the framework of our future relationship.

C’est le résultat de négociations intensives, commencées il y a 17 mois, et je veux remercier nos deux équipes pour leur engagement. Vous me permettrez d’ailleurs de dire personnellement l’honneur et la chance que j’ai d’animer une équipe exceptionnelle ici.

This is the result of intensive negotiations, started 17 months ago, and I want to thank both teams for their commitment. You will allow me personally to say the honor and the luck that I have of animating an exceptional team here.

Cet accord représente une étape déterminante pour conclure ces négociations.

This agreement represents a decisive step in concluding these negotiations.

Il est aussi l’aboutissement d’une méthode, celle d’une négociation menée dans la transparence depuis le début, et dans le respect de nos mandats respectifs.

It is also the culmination of a method, that of a negotiation conducted transparently from the beginning, and in accordance with our respective mandates.

Ce projet d’accord de retrait comprend 185 articles, 3 protocoles et plusieurs annexes.
This draft withdrawal agreement includes 185 articles, 3 protocols and several annexes.

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