After a year and a half of tense negotiations, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Tuesday that she has reached a final Brexit deal with the European Union. Senior Ministers were called to Downing Street individually Tuesday night to be briefed on the deal ahead of an emergency Cabinet meeting Wednesday. Ministers were not entrusted to take a copy of the 500-page draft of the deal, accompanied by a five-page "political declaration", home with them. The deal apparently involves a two-year transition until 2021, followed by a highly contentious all-UK customs union "backstop" in the event that the Irish border issue cannot be resolved.
Cabinet sources suggest ten members of Cabinet have made it clear they have significant reservations including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. Leadsom, Mordaunt, and McVey have been the subject of repeated resignation speculation.
All four opposition parties wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister demanding a "truly meaningful vote" on the deal. The DUP, Labour Party, and Liberal Democrats each issued statements setting out their opposition to the deal, which has not yet even been published.
Conservative Eurosceptics were infuriated by the deal, with former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith suggesting PM May's "days are numbered" and when asked if it were now time for a new party leader, Mr. Duncan Smith replied, “The questions will be asked … the party will certainly be asking questions along those lines.” Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and brother to former Transport Minister Jo Johnson, who resigned from Cabinet yesterday, told BBC News: "This has been a chronicle of a death foretold for some months now. We are going to stay in the Customs Union … We are going to stay effectively in large parts of the Single Market. It is vassal state stuff. For the first time in 1000 years this place, this Parliament, will not have a say over the laws that govern this country. It is a quite incredible state of affairs."
A former Brexiteer Cabinet minister who asked not to be named said the deal meant the Conservatives could not win the election. MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said “the white flags have gone up all over Whitehall … we are all toast, aren't we? This is almost like the Titanic – she can't steer it and she is not going to let anyone else steer it. Normally rats leave a sinking ship – this lot have stayed on it.”