In 'Bittersweet Landmark,' EU Approves Brexit Deal

But there's hard work ahead for Theresa May
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 25, 2018 6:30 AM CST
EU Approves Brexit Deal, but the Road Doesn't Get Easier
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

(Newser) – In a bittersweet landmark, European Union leaders on Sunday approved an agreement on Britain's departure next year—the first time a member country will have left the 28-nation bloc. It took leaders a matter of minutes at a summit in Brussels to endorse a withdrawal agreement that settles Britain's divorce bill, protects the rights of UK and EU citizens hit by Brexit, and keeps the Irish border open. May insists her deal delivers on the things that matter most to pro-Brexit voters—control of budgets, immigration policy, and laws—while retaining close ties to the UK's European neighbors. The agreement paves the way for Britain's smooth departure from the bloc from the EU side, though the AP reports a bumpy ride still awaits in the UK, which is due to leave the EU at midnight Brussels time on March 29.

Dauntingly for May, the deal needs approval from Britain's Parliament, and she plans to spend the next couple of weeks selling it to politicians and the British public before the December vote. May is under intense pressure from pro-Brexit and pro-EU British lawmakers, with large numbers on both sides of the debate threatening to vote the deal down when it comes to the House of Commons. Brexiteers think it will leave the UK tied too closely to EU rules, while pro-Europeans say it will erect new barriers between Britain and the bloc—its neighbor and biggest trading partner. If those opposed succeed in voting it down, the BBC outlines what could happen next: "no deal, an attempt to renegotiate, or a general election." But Bloomberg notes EU leaders have already warned that renegotiation absolutely isn't an option. (Read about key points of the deal here.)

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