Political turmoil follows draft Brexit agreement

Fresh doubts over the future of the draft Brexit deal struck between the UK and Brussels emerged on Thursday as Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and other ministers quit Theresa May's government in protest.

Illustration of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London illustrates an article on the latest Brexit deal presented to Parliament by Prime Minister Theresa May
Already facing parliamentary opposition from some of her own MPs, as well as Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists - whose ten MPs give the Conservatives their parliamentary majority - Prime Minister May was already facing the prospect of an uphill battle to get the deal approved.

Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary, quits

The agreement, which covers the country's EU exit terms next March and arrangements for the transition period until the end of 2020 (during which time the two sides are meant to agree a future trade deal), appeared to have won the backing of the cabinet after a five-hour meeting in Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon and evening.However, Mr Raab, who was only promoted to the cabinet this summer after his predecessor, David Davis, quit, resigned on Thursday morning saying he could not support the deal because the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland "presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom".

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey also resigns over the terms of the Prime Ministers draft Brexit deal

Little more than an hour after Mr Raab's resignation, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey also resigned citing concerns over the future unity of the UK, and a lack of control the deal offered over finance, law, borders and trade policy. She said the deal kept the UK too close to Brussels.During the day, junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman, and parliamentary private secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also stepped down, with the future of the plan for a 'soft' border between the Republic and Northern Ireland being a main area of concern.

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Under the interim deal agreed between London and Brussels - a deal that has to be signed off by the European Parliament and every EU27 legislature, in addition to the UK parliament - there would be a 'backstop' arrangement for the Irish border if no new trade agreement between Britain and the EU by December 2020.Under the backstop, there would be a temporary customs union with Northern Ireland tied to a deeper customs relationship with the EU than Great Britain, and subject to the rules of the EU single market. And, most controversially, both the UK and EU would have to agree to end this relationship.Mr Raab said such an arrangement would result in the EU "holding a veto over our ability to exit". In his resignation letter, he added, "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."

During transition period, the UK would adhere to all EU rules

Other parts of the deal confirmed that the UK would pay at least £39 billion in a 'divorce bill' to the EU, and that, during the 21-month transition period, the UK would adhere to all EU rules and remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.On the subject of freedom of movement and the three million-plus EU27 nationals resident in the UK and the million-plus British citizens living on the continent, the deal confirmed that the mutual right to move, live and work would remain until the end of the until the end of the transition period.

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EU nationals moving to the UK during that period would be allowed to remain and, if they stayed for more than five years, would be granted permanent residency.Mrs May told the House of Commons on Thursday, "The Brexit talks are about acting in the national interest and that means making what I believe are the right choices, not the easy choices."We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated."

Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn: the draft withdrawal agreement is a "huge and damaging failure"

However, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, described the draft withdrawal agreement as a "huge and damaging failure", adding, "The government is in chaos. Their deal risks leaving the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say."When even the last Brexit Secretary - who, theoretically at least, negotiated the deal - says, 'I cannot support the proposed deal', what faith does that give anyone else in this place or in this country?"The government simply cannot put to Parliament this half-baked deal that both the Brexit Secretary and his predecessor have rejected. No deal is not a real option and the government has not seriously prepared for it."Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online DirectorySubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all of the international assignments and global mobility news.

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