The full Cabinet on Tuesday approved the UK’s negotiating position for the first phase of Brexit negotiations – which the Prime Minister hopes will lead to agreement from the rest of the EU in just over a fortnight for talks to move on to trade and transition.
The three elements to the UK’s offer are:
The most contentious of the Prime Minister’s negotiating positions with her own Brexit-supporting MPs are the offers on the divorce bill and the continuing role of the ECJ as ultimate guarantor of EU migrants’ rights.
She will be accused by the more ardent Brexit supporters of betrayal and crossing her own red lines.
However she will feel that on the ECJ her position shows that UK law generally takes precedence, because only the Supreme Court could decide to involve the ECJ, not the plaintiff.
However it is on Ireland that the rest of the EU will be skeptical of whether she has moved enough, because they will question how she can guarantee an open border with the Republic – unless she also explicitly promises a degree of regulatory convergence between the UK and EU that would obviate the need for burdensome customs checks.
And that degree of convergence would be hated by Brexiteer ultras.
Ministers however believe that her officials have been given a nod in Brussels that broadly she is offering almost enough to move to the next phase of talks.
They noted that her lead Brexit official, Olly Robbins, attended the Cabinet meeting.
“He would only been there if all the important ground work in talks with Brussels had been done,” said one.