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European Council to meet on November 25th to formalise Brexit; Northern Ireland minister quits PM May's cabinet

File photo. Photograph:( Others )

WION Web Team London, UK Nov 15, 2018, 01.32 PM (IST)

A day after British Prime Minister Theresa May declared she had won the support of her cabinet on Brexit, European Council president Donald Tusk said today that the summit will formalise the Brexit deal on November 25th.

"If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement. It will take place on Sunday, the 25th of November at 9:30 am," Tusk announced.

As the announcement was made by Tusk, junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara quit the British government over the Brexit deal.

"With respect, prime minister, this agreement does not provide for the United Kingdom being a sovereign, independent country leaving the shackles of the EU, however, it is worded," he wrote.

"We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart," he said.

"We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better," he added.

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had said earlier that “decisive progress” has been made in Brexit talks with Britain. Barnier's statement was taken up by the president of the European Council Tusk who called for an extraordinary summit.

Theresa May had said yesterday that she had the "collective" backing of her cabinet to move Britain out of the Europen Union after a gruelling five-hour meeting. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had said he expected the 28 leaders to meet on November 25.

"The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration," May had said. The draft, however, needs to be passed by the Parliament.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had tweeted that he had sent Tusk a letter recommending that he "find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union."

However, there are still several points of contention including the status of Northern Ireland which is likely to have "special status" aligning it to the  European single market which was resisted by Scotland politicians who have questioned the deal.

Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon had asked why Northern Ireland should have a special status that would keep it in the European single market while Scotland is forced out along with the entire country.

Britain has been part of the European Union for the past 46 years but British citizen had decided to pull the country out of the European Union two years in an open referendum.

Last week, The European Union and the British government had jointly published a 585-page detailed draft agreement of their Brexit deal that needed the approval of EU leaders and the British parliament.

Story highlights

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Barnier had said earlier that “decisive progress” has been made in Brexit talks