The cabinet has backed a draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, Theresa May has said.
The prime minister was speaking after what she said was a “long, detailed and impassioned debate” in a five-hour cabinet meeting.
She said it was a “decisive step” in the progress of Brexit, and would allow the agreement to be finalised in the coming days.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg described it as a “rotten deal”.
The 585-page draft withdrawal agreement has now been published, alongside a shorter statement setting out what the UK and EU’s future relations will look like.
European Parliament Brexit lead Guy Verhofstadt said the agreement “will make a Brexit possible, while maintaining a close relationship between the EU and UK, a protection of citizens’ rights and the avoidance of a hard Irish border”.
Criticism of the draft agreement has focused on how this hard border can be avoided.
‘Pretty rotten deal’
Some Tory MPs are angry, claiming it could mean the UK is tied to EU rules for years to come.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who has written to MPs urging them to oppose the proposals, told BBC Radio 5 Live it was “a pretty rotten deal”, keeping the UK in the EU’s customs union and “splitting up” the UK.
Despite winning the backing of her cabinet, the prime minister faces a battle to get the completed deal through Parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party – which gives the government the support it needs to win key votes – has joined opposition parties in criticising it.
The cabinet meeting lasted longer than expected, with some ministers believed to hold reservations about the “backstop” to guarantee no hard border.
Afterwards, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said there had been no cabinet resignations and appealed to Conservative MPs to support the package.
In her statement, Mrs May said it was “the result of thousands of hours of hard negotiation with EU officials”.
She added: “I firmly believe with my head and heart that this decisive choice is in the best interests of the entire UK.”
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