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May’s Brexit deal opposed by all quarters

British Prime Minister Theresa May has hailed her draft European Union divorce deal but must convince ministers to back her plan amid open hostility from some of her own members of parliament who say it threatens the United Kingdom’s unity.

She must try to get her Brexit deal, struck after months of negotiations with the EU, approved by parliament before leaving the bloc on March 29, 2019.

The deal has been denounced by both supporters and opponents of Brexit.

“I’m confident that this takes us significantly closer to delivering on what the British people voted for in the referendum,” May told parliament. Britons voted 52-48 per cent in favour of leaving the EU in 2016.

“We will take back control of our borders, our laws and our money, leave the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Brexit campaigners in May’s Conservative Party said her deal was a surrender to the EU and they would vote it down.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s government, said it would not back any deal that treated the British province differently from the rest of the UK.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a “botched deal”.

The British cabinet met at 2pm local time on Wednesday and a number of senior ministers were expected to push back against the deal.

Brexit-supporting Conservative members of parliament have made their unhappiness clear.

“If the media reports about the EU agreement are in any way accurate, you are not delivering the Brexit people voted for, and today you will lose the support of many Conservative MPs and millions of voters across the country,” MP Peter Bone said.

May, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the turmoil following the referendum, has staked her future on a deal which she hopes will solve the Brexit riddle: leaving the EU while preserving the closest possible ties.

The government gave no immediate details on the Brexit deal text, which runs to hundreds of pages, although a statement to parliament was likely on Thursday.

At the heart of conflict among UK politicians has been the so-called Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy to avoid a return to controls between the British province and EU-member Ireland which could threaten the 1998 peace accord which ended 30 years of violence.

Australian Associated Press

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