May’s political deal has ‘unicorns in place of facts’

Prime minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street
Photo: PA / David Mirzoeff

Prime minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street Photo: PA / David Mirzoeff - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

By hook and probably by crook, Theresa May has finally secured a deal with the European Union.

The proposed political declaration on future EU/UK relations has been agreed in draft form and given the nod 'in principle at political level'.

The announcement clears the way for a special Brexit summit to go ahead in Brussels on Sunday, when leaders of the 27 remaining EU states are expected to give their stamp of approval to the declaration alongside the 585-page withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of the UK's departure.

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But the agreement got far from a rousing reception. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said 'lots of unicorns taking the place of facts about the future relationship'.

'Fair play to the EU for pushing it as far as possible, but it adds up to a blindfold Brexit,' she added.

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'Difficult issues unresolved - so extended transition/backstop almost certain.'

It follows a meeting in Brussels between the prime minister and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, and is the first indication that the pair reached political agreement in principle on the text.

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Downing Street has repeatedly made clear that agreement is needed on the future framework – setting out aspirations in areas like trade and security co-operation and believed to run to a few dozen pages - in order to press ahead with the legally-binding withdrawal agreement.

In a tweet, Tusk said: 'I have just sent to EU27 a draft Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between EU and UK.

'The commission president has informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators' level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders.'

Speaking outside Number 10, May said: 'This is the right deal for the UK. It delivers on the vote of the referendum, it brings back control of our borders, our money and our laws and it does so while protecting jobs, protecting our security and protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom.'

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