European Union proposes visa-free travel for Britons after Brexit

Andrew Cummings
November 14, 2018

Mrs May's government and European Union officials reportedly working non-stop to secure a new Brexit deal by Wednesday so it can be agreed by leaders in Brussels at the end of November.

Ministers were individually briefed about the deal's outline on Tuesday evening, ahead of a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday to sign off the text, Downing Street said.

Both the United Kingdom and EU want to schedule a special summit of European leaders at the end of November to sign off the withdrawal deal, but time is running out.

Ministers said they would publish a "full legal statement" before the bill goes to parliament for MPs to vote.

Brexiteers in May's party accused her of surrendering to the European Union and said they would vote the deal down while the Northern Irish party which props up her minority government questioned whether she would be able to get parliamentary approval.

"We have been clear in our proposals that we want to ensure reciprocal measures on visa-free travel for tourists and short term business visitors with the European Union".

But May has struggled to untangle almost 46 years of membership without damaging trade or upsetting the lawmakers who will ultimately decide the fate of any deal she can secure.

"For the first time in a thousand years this place, this parliament, will not have a say over the laws that govern this country", former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC.

"We are going to look very carefully at the draft agreement. Everything hangs on that and ultimately whether Theresa May can get this past Parliament", said Aberdeen Standard Investments Political Economist Stephanie Kelly.

The apparent breakthrough came after months of protracted talks in Brussels with measures to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland being the main obstacle to a deal.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said if Northern Ireland ended up with "special provisions" that set it apart from Britain "that's unacceptable".

Ministers will be focusing on when the so-called Irish border backstop can be ended, an issue that has riven the cabinet with divisions.

It remained unclear what had been agreed on the Irish border.

Fears that the proposals would mean keeping Britain inside the EU's customs union indefinitely or that Northern Ireland would have to accept different rules and regulations to the rest of the United Kingdom have focused opposition to May's deal.

Former party leader and Brexit hardliner Iain Duncan Smith warned that if reports of the deal's contents were true the Government was "breaking their own agreed position and will be bringing back something that is untenable".

In October, thousands of anti-Brexit protesters gathered in London to voice their concern about the UK's planned withdrawal from the EU.

Leadsom said on Sunday that MPs would not accept a backstop which the United Kingdom can not leave without the EU's permission.

They also say the Leave campaign's promises to increase funding for the country's health service and strike more favourable trade deals with non-EU countries were dishonest.

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