London: British Prime Minister Theresa May has hailed the draft agreement on post-Brexit relations as “right for the whole of the UK” and insisted a deal “is within our grasp”.
The political declaration - outlining how UK-EU trade, security and other issues will work - has been “agreed in principle”, the European Council says.
London and Brussels have already agreed the draft terms of the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.
The prime minister told MPs it would deliver the Brexit people voted for.
“The negotiations are now at a critical moment and all our efforts must be focused on working with our European partners to bring this process to a final conclusion in the interests of all our people,” said the PM.
“The British people want Brexit to be settled, they want a good deal that sets us on a course for a brighter future, and they want us to come together as a country and to move on to focus on the big issues at home, like our NHS.
“The deal that will enable us to do this is now within our grasp. In these crucial 72 hours ahead, I will do everything possible to deliver it for the British people.”
But Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “These 26 pages are a testament to the failure of the (Conservatives’) bungled negotiations. Nineteen extra pages but nothing has changed.” He said in Parliament it fell short of his party’s tests to support the deal.
“It represents the worst of all worlds: no say over the rules that will continue to apply and no certainty for the future.”.
“This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared - a leap in the dark. It falls short of Labour’s six tests,” he added.
“What on earth have the government been doing for the past two years?.”
Last week, the UK and the EU agreed a 585-page legally-binding withdrawal agreement, covering the UK’s £39bn “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights after Brexit and the thorny issue of the Northern Ireland “backstop” - how to avoid the need for a manned border on the island of Ireland.
The political declaration is a separate, far shorter document, setting out broad aspirations for the kind of relationship the UK and the EU will have after Brexit, and is not legally-binding. Some of the wording of it is non-committal and allows both sides to keep their options open.