Draft Brexit text outlines future EU-UK relationship

British Prime Minister Theresa May listens as Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis speaks at the start of their meeting inside 10 Downing Street in London. Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain

The clock is ticking for Theresa May on Brexit

Britain's exit from the European Union passed a crucial milestone on Wednesday evening, when after a marathon five-hour negotiation session Theresa May confirmed her cabinet had accepted the Brexit deal she has negotiated with the European Union. United Kingdom lawmakers will grill her in Parliament on Thursday over the details of the as-yet unpublished deal, a crucial moment when many will decide whether to support it or vote it down.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street in London, Nov. 14, 2018.

"I firmly believe that the draft withdrawal agreement was the best that could be negotiated and it was for the Cabinet to decide whether to move on in the talks", she said.

"The collective decision of the cabinet was to agree the draft agreement", May said in a highly anticipated address outside her residence, 10 Downing Street, on Wednesday evening.

And she added: "This is a decisive step which enables us to move on and finalise the deal in the days ahead".

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The draft deal says any such backstop arrangement, which would see Britain and the European Union establishing a single customs territory, would be temporary and both sides would seek to secure a deal on a future relationship by December 31, 2020, to ensure a backstop would not be necessary.

But even after convincing her Cabinet to support the deal, May's chances of winning a Commons vote now appear slim, with a sense of unease spreading across the green benches and some reported "reservations" from several frontbenchers remaining.

"The UK would apply the EU's customs code in Northern Ireland".

The PM will make a further statement in the Commons on Thursday morning, where she said she fully expects the agreement to come under "intense scrutiny" from MPs.

May's supporters argue that the deal is the best on offer, and the alternatives are a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit that would cause massive disruption to people and businesses or a general election that could see the Conservative government replaced by Labour, making far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.

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Now that her cabinet backs the agreement, the Brexit process goes to the next stage: a vote in Parliament where all members of Parliament (MPs) will take a vote on whether they support the agreement on the terms of withdrawal.

The deal is "unacceptable to unionists", will "lock us into an EU customs union and EU laws", and is "profoundly undemocratic", said Mr Rees-Mogg.

He added: "For these reasons I cannot support the proposed agreement in Parliament and would hope that Conservative MPs would do likewise".

In a letter delivered to the Prime Minister, they said the agreement must deliver "complete and full sovereignty over domestic waters" after the United Kingdom leaves the hated Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Former Foreign Secretary William Hague warned "ardent Brexiteers" that if they shoot down May's deal, it could lead to a change of government and a new referendum and "Brexit might never happen at all".

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