EU, UK agree on Brexit divorce deal text, Irish border issue

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May is facing pressure from the EU as well as her own party. — Reuters pic

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU ministers from the 27 other member states that "intense negotiating efforts continue", adding that the Irish border issue remained unresolved. The reason they can't look us in the eye, it's because they know this will leave us worse-off and with less control.

The pound surged on the news, rising by 1 percent against the dollar and 0.5 percent against the euro compared to late Monday.

The continued wait for a Brexit deal prompted accusations of Number 10 and Brussels engaging in theatrics from ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who returned to his attack on Mrs May's Brexit strategy.

Theresa May's Cabinet met on Tuesday morning to discuss Brexit.

Some ministers have also publicly disagreed over what they want from the deal, particularly on the fraught issue of Ireland, and Westminster is braced for possible resignations.

"This is a calculated deceit on the British people", Mr Johnson told the Evening Standard.

France's European Minister Nathalie Loiseau has confirmed "substantial progress" has been made.

"If what we've heard is true, this fails to meet the Conservative Party's manifesto, and it fails to meet numerous commitments the prime minister makes", Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the hard-line leaders of the Brexit campaign, told the BBC.

This would leave parliaments in Westminster and Brussels with precious little time to scrutinise it, and May's government with no choice but to begin no-deal preparation.

"Cabinet ministers have been invited to read documentation ahead of that meeting", the spokesman said, after British media were leaked details of the breakthrough.

Boris Johnson's younger brother Jo sensationally quit the Cabinet last week and laid into the PM's plans - going as far as calling for a second referendum.

"No one voted for this".

May said her first trade mission after Brexit would be to the Asia Pacific region as she wants Britain to strike trade deals with the fastest growing economies outside of Europe.

"The bottom line for the Prime Minister, the Conservative Government and their partners in the DUP must be the achievement of a sensible deal which respects the result of the referendum and maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom", he said.

May's cabinet also received an update on Britain's preparedness, as it has for several weeks now. "It is clear that although we are making progress, we are not there yet", he told a news conference.

It also provides for additional "deeper" provisions for Northern Ireland on customs and regulations, RTE said.

Britain's exit bill of around £39 billion (45 billion euros, $50 billion) and a guarantee on European Union citizens' rights are also included in the divorce deal.

With under five months until Britain leaves the European Union, talks have stalled over a disagreement on the so-called Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time. Senior Tories including the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab have demanded the United Kingdom have the right to quit the backstop, which will see the whole United Kingdom remain under European Union customs rules until the trading relationship between London and Brussels is resolved.

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