Prime Minister Theresa May will try to convince senior ministers on Wednesday to accept a draft European Union divorce deal that opponents say threatens both her government and the unity of the United Kingdom.
The weakest British leader in a generation, she has to try to get the deal approved by parliament before exiting the bloc on March 29, 2019.
Brexit campaigners in May’s Conservative Party accused her of surrendering to the EU and said they would vote down the deal. The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up May’s minority government questioned whether she would be able to get parliamentary approval.
“It’s a question of whether we are separating the union, whether we are dealing with the United Kingdom in a way that leaves us adrift in the future and, as the leader of unionism in Northern Ireland, I’m not about to agree to that,” DUP leader Arlene Foster told Sky News.
The British cabinet will meet at 1400 GMT.
Five of May’s senior ministers Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Geoffrey Cox will back the deal, said the Sun newspaper’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn.
Sterling, which has seesawed since reaching $1.50 just before Britain’s 2016 referendum that saw a 52-48 percent margin for leaving the EU, was down at $1.2929 after briefly jumping more than 1 percent on news of a deal.
EU leaders could meet on Nov. 25 for a summit to seal the Brexit deal if May’s cabinet approves the text, diplomatic sources said.
For the EU, reeling from successive crises over debt and immigration, the loss of Britain is the biggest blow yet to 60 years of efforts to forge European unity in the wake of two world wars.
The ultimate outcome for the United Kingdom remains uncertain: scenarios range from a calm divorce to rejection of May’s deal and potentially sinking her premiership and leaving the bloc with no agreement, or even another referendum.