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Brexit deal text agreed, Irish border solution found, Cabinet to meet to consider next steps

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Negotiators from the EU and UK have agreed a Brexit withdrawal agreement text which avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, it has been reported.

Theresa May is meeting with her Cabinet ministers on Tuesday evening to go through the details and allow them to read the draft agreement with the full Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

A UK Government source confirmed agreement had been reached at a "technical level".

Downing Street said in a statement: "Cabinet will meet at 2pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps.

"Cabinet ministers have been invited to read documentation ahead of that meeting."

In a statement Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said talks had not concluded.

"Negotiators are still engaged and a number of issues are outstanding. We are not commenting further on leaks in the media," he said in a statement.

The DUP, meanwhile said it would wait to see the text of any deal.

MP Nigel Dodds said it came as "no surprise" the technical discussion had come to an end.

He added: "The crucial issue is going to be what happens when it gets to Cabinet and what happens when it gets to Parliament.

"We have not seen any details, we will see what happens, people know our positions.. and we will judge whatever comes forward."

Sammy Wilson said he hoped a call would be coming "fairly soon" on what the deal included. He said he hoped the Prime Minister would keep her promises.

Irish broadcaster RTE said the text was agreed at around 9pm on Monday night and sent to Downing Street for consideration.

Quoting two "well-placed sources" saying the text was "as stable as it can be" although this was not an indication negotiations had concluded.

The deal will allegedly contain a backstop aimed at trying to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. A review mechanism is understood to be part of the text.

Theresa May is to meet her Cabinet ministers on a one-to-one basis on Tuesday evening to run through the detail. They will then all meet at a full meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday.

The agreement will see a temporary UK-wide customs arrangement, with specific provisions for Northern Ireland.

RTE reports the provision for Northern Ireland will "go deeper on the issue of customs and alignment on the rules of the single market than for the rest of the UK".

After a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday it was reported Prime Minister Theresa May had said agreeing a deal on Brexit was now down to a "small number" of outstanding issues. She later told the London Lord Mayor's dinner the negotiations were at "the end game".

De facto deputy Prime Minister David Lidington described a deal as "almost within touching distance".

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