Brexit: Britain and EU agree on draft deal but Theresa May is in for a gruelling battle in the parliament

By Prarthana Mitra

After a year of multilateral negotiations, Britain was able to arrive at a draft divorce deal for leaving the European Union, popularly known as Brexit. Despite international denouncement and amidst grave concern for the country’s economic future, Prime Minister Theresa May is ready to launch herself in the next chapter of what will be a precarious battle with the rest of Europe. But she has other bridges to cross before getting there.

May’s conundrum

Caught between opponents and her own party’s hardline demands, May is poised for a hard time with internal negotiations, now that the external ones are over. May met and considered the draft withdrawal agreement, which reportedly goes for hundred pages, with her cabinet Wednesday. May informed late at night that the cabinet had backed the withdrawal agreement, calling it a “decisive step” enabling UK to move on.

As Britain nears Brexit, the first sovereign state to exit the EU, there seems to be cursory agreement on the deal but an increasing number of Brexiteers and non-Brexiteers are questioning if it will pass the larger hurdle, ie., parliament’s approval.

May who came to power in the aftermath of the divisive referendum on the deal, has struggled ever since to strike a balance between ensuring Britain’s commerce doesn’t suffer due to the exit from a 46-year-old membership, and appeasing pro-Brexit lawmakers who would eventually bring the accord into motion. Settling for the middle ground by going forward with the divorce while preserving the closest possible ties with EU, May’s compromise plan has upset Brexiteers, pro-Europeans, Scottish nationalists and some of her own government officials.

Brexiteers felt let down by compromise deal

The growing scepticism and disgruntlement among many Brexit-supporters in Theresa May’s own party came from those who believed she had given in to too many demands of the EU. Vowing that they would veto the deal on the floor of the cabinet and the parliament, some of them have raised their voice against May’s surrender to other European powers. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson categorically said that May had sold out the United Kingdom and that he would oppose the “unacceptable accord.”

Opposition has not budged from their anti-Brexit stance

Moreover, there is no lack of open opposition to the Brexit deal from the very beginning, from May’s political rivals led by the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn. Party spokespersons said that they would oppose any agreement that does not retain “the exact same” economic benefits that it now has with the EU. Another politician who recently resigned from May’s cabinet called for another referendum and said that Brexit could unleash Britain’s greatest crisis since World War Two.


Northern Ireland and the Irish deal

According to the latest reports, even the Northern Irish party which has always helped keep May’s minority government in power expressed doubt over the deal getting parliamentary approval. Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) asked, ”The trick will be for Theresa May, can she satisfy everyone?” Ireland, which will remain a part of the EU after Brexit, agreed to a backstop or an insurance policy to avoid a return to controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland in case of trade relations in the future.

Global impact of Brexit: Roadmap ahead

At a time when the US is faltering on the world stage owing to Donald Trump’s presidency, political experts have predicted that Brexit could be a major setback for Britain. During the Brexit referendum, supporters of the deal had said that the short-term instability would give way to greater growth for the kingdom in the long run.

But the withdrawal of the world’s fifth largest economy from the world’s largest trading bloc, could be disastrous for the sterling as well as global politics, dividing the west when Russia and China are becoming increasingly assertive.

Diplomatic sources reported that EU leaders were likely to meet on November 25 for a summit to seal the Brexit deal, provided May’s cabinet approves the text by then. 320 lawmakers in the 650-seat parliament need to vote yes for the deal to pass.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

BrexitEuropean UnionTheresa May