Theresa May lets ministers take a peek at draft Brexit deal

PA Wire  PA Images               Details of a draft comms grid to drum up support for Theresa May's Brexit deal have been leaked

PA Wire PA Images Details of a draft comms grid to drum up support for Theresa May's Brexit deal have been leaked

Yesterday we heard that there would not be any Cabinet meetings this week and now we have learned that an emergency cabinet meeting to sign off Brexit divorce deal is set to happen either tomorrow or next Monday (not too vague then).

Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has led calls in Government for full legal advice on plans for a customs backstop to be shared with ministers so they can make an informed decision about the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.

There are also demands within the Cabinet for Mrs May to produce the legal advice behind her "backstop" plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

The concerns focus on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's advice on how an exit from the backstop could be found to make sure the United Kingdom is not permanently kept within a customs union, which would severely curtail its ability to strike worldwide free trade deals - a key prize for Brexiteers.

The Prime Minister told MPs last month that 95% of the deal had been agreed, although the key sticking point of the backstop to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland remained unresolved.

Pressure over the legal advice mounted as Cabinet ministers were invited to review the text of the withdrawal agreement which has so far been secured in negotiations with Brussels.

A Downing Street source said it showed "where we are so far" but does "not imply a deal has been done".

Brussels" chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said "more work is needed" but "we remain determined to reach a deal'.

The concerns focus on Mr Cox's advice on how an exit from the backstop could be found to make sure the United Kingdom is not permanently kept within a customs union which would severely curtail its ability to strike free trade deals with nations around the world - a key prize for Brexiteers.

Mrs May updated European Council president Donald Tusk on the situation on Wednesday morning.

He said their phone conversation was a chance to "take stock of progress" and discuss the way ahead.

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