UK: Draft test on withdrawal agreement reached between UK and the EU

UK and EU officials have agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement in a significant breakthrough for the talks.

A cabinet source told the BBC that the document has been agreed at a technical level by officials from both sides after intensive talks this week.

A special cabinet meeting will be held at 14:00 GMT on Wednesday as Theresa May seeks ministers’ backing.

Every minister is being asked to see the prime minister for one-to-one talks on Tuesday evening.

The future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has been the last major outstanding issue to be settled amid disagreements over how to guarantee that there will not be physical checks reintroduced after Brexit.

Cabinet ministers were briefed on the state of the negotiations earlier on Tuesday, when they were told a “small number of outstanding issues” remained to be sorted.

No 10 said ministers were now being called to a special meeting to “consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps”.

Before they do so, they will be able to read relevant “documentation”.

The BBC’s chief political correspondent Vicki Young said some ministers had “deep concerns” about the the shape of the likely agreement, which critics say could leave the UK trapped in a customs agreement with the EU.

She said they would have to decide whether they could support it, and if not, whether to resign from cabinet.

In another development, ambassadors from the remaining 27 EU states will meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

The prime minister has been under pressure from both Brexiteers and pro-EU MPs as she tries to seal a deal with the EU on the terms for the UK’s exit on 29 March 2019.

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