European Council Meeting brings Presidents and Prime Ministers together at crack of dawn on a Sunday – but it is a vital step in the Brexit journey

At 9:30 local time (8:30 GMT) today, Sunday 25 November, the European Council of Ministers met in Brussels and agreed to accept each of the two documents that hold the keys to Britain’s future: the Withdrawal Agreement; and the Political Declaration.

The Prime Minister must now get both documents voted through with a majority in each of the UK’s Houses of Parliament before mid-January 2019 for a deal to be on track.

Europe is united in stressing that to leave the EU with a deal on 29 March 2019, the contents of the documents have to be accepted as they stand.  The UK now has a binary choice: the deal on offer; or reject the deal and face the cliff-edge ‘no-deal’ scenario on 30 March.

Today’s count suggests that many MPs, including a significant portion of Conservatives, will vote against the Agreement and Declaration.

In a plea to MPs, Michel Barnier, Europe’s chief negotiator, called on “everyone to face up to their responsibilities,” adding that the deal was a "necessary step" into the next phase of the negotiations.  "I have worked with my team and negotiated with the UK, never against the UK.  The next phase is an unprecedented and ambitious partnership.  We will remain allies, partners and friends."

20 out of the 27 remaining EU states needed to accept the documents – but support was unanimous for the Withdrawal Agreement covering: citizens’ rights, the £39bn divorce bill, and the Irish border issue for a temporary period during which the long term arrangements can be negotiated.

The Political Declaration is a 26-page document setting out the basis of the future relationship.

The European Union has no plan to address a possible rejection of the Brexit deal in the British parliament other than “no-deal scenario” a senior EU official said later.

Asked about preparations for possible new negotiations we learned that the only Plan B that is going on is preparedness planning under framework of the no-deal Technical Notices…and "This work continues."


Minute of meeting of the European Council, 25 November 2018

Withdrawal Agreement (584 pages)

Political Declaration

Step by step guide


John ShuttleworthComment