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News | Published November 12 2018

Ministers and officials rush for Brexit deal

As the deadline approaches for a post-Brexit deal, ministers and officials are being urged to draft proposals which it is hoped the EU will assent to.

Pressure has been mounting on Theresa May to arrive at a deal which will afford the UK access to the single market while also ensuring that the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remains soft. The most recent blow for the prime minister was Jo Johnson’s resignation after expressing apprehension over the government’s conduct during Brexit negotiations.

Highlights
  • Sir Keir Starmer suggests that Brexit could be halted
  • Donald Tusk put forward a deadline of this Wednesay

Within Downing Street, a number of talks were held well into the night hours, in spite of which it is said that serious issues have yet to be resolved. Both officials and government ministers are working hard to produce terms on which to leave the EU by the middle of this week – a deadline Donald Tusk, the European Council’s president, put forward. The hope is that, come the end of the month, EU representatives will be willing to agree on such terms, thereby securing a deal.

In the event that this does not occur, the government – and indeed Brexit – could face severe obstacles. Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, said recently that MPs will not vote for a no-deal Brexit, and even went as far to suggest that the entire process of leaving the European Union could legally be halted.

If by the end of November there is no progress, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit will become considerably higher. This would not only add great urgency to the task of planning for such an eventuality, it would also put Theresa May and her government under enormous domestic political pressure. The key issue remains the Northern Irish border, as neither side seems to have found a mutually satisfactory arrangement. Simon Coveney, Irish foreign minister, joined the debate by claiming that this stage of the negotiations would be of pivotal importance.