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European leaders have given the green light to an agreement on the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU), one which would allow the UK an “orderly withdrawal” from the group.
In a short meeting that took less than an hour at the Brussels summit on Sunday, 27 of the bloc’s leaders officially endorsed the terms in UK’s draft divorce deal and now it is up to UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May to persuade lawmakers in the UK parliament to agree to it.
The EU leaders on Sunday approved the 599-page long withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of UK’s exit from the EU and a political declaration which talks about how the relationship between the UK and EU would be like after the divorce.
No member states raised objections to the Brexit withdrawal deal at the special summit.
Mrs May commented on the agreement by the EU leaders after the special meeting: “Before Christmas, Members of Parliament (MPs) will vote on this deal. It will be one of the most significant votes that parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together, into a brighter future, or open the door to yet more division, and uncertainty.”
“The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit. They want a good deal done, (a deal) that fulfils the vote, and allows us to come together again as a country,” she added.
“I will take this deal back to the House of Commons, confident we have achieved the best deal available, and full of optimism about the future of our country. In parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart, and I look forward to that campaign,” Mrs May said.
Following the meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk posted on his Twitter account: “EU27 has endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future of EU-UK relations.”
Commenting on the endorsement, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said anyone who thinks the EU would offer better terms if the deal was rejected by MPs in the UK will be “disappointed”.
Mr Juncker added that the existing deal is “the best deal possible…(and) the only deal possible.”
An uphill task for Theresa May
It is now up to Mrs May to convince MPs in the UK parliament to back the draft deal.
The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the Brexit draft deal before the middle of December. But the deal approval is likely to face resistance, as many MPs including those in the Scottish National Party, and Democratic Unionist Party are going to vote against it.
If the MPs reject the deal, different scenarios could pan out. There could be a general election if Mrs May lost the votes, Britain could leave without a deal, or it could attempt to renegotiate a revised deal.
Some party leaders have called the deal not what the British people really voted for, as it gives away too much control and power the UK has to the EU.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called the Brexit deal “the worst of all worlds” and will fight for a more sensible deal.
Some analysts expect the pound to open the final week of November on the upside post endorsement from EU leaders at the Brussels summit, while others suggest the uncertainties coming from the decision from UK MPs could create volatility on the pound in the weeks to come.
At 6.15am UTC on Monday, the pound was at £0.78 against the greenback.