EU approves Brexit divorce deal with Britain

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, tweeted on Saturday afternoon that there was unity and solidarity from the EU side.

Mr Tusk signalled on Saturday that the deal would be approved after Spain withdrew last-minute concerns over Gibraltar.

The Brexit package is also facing strong opposition in the British parliament, which must vote in favor for it to take effect.

What does the PM's letter say?

Spain demanded that the withdrawal agreement should be amended but was refused over fears that other countries would call for their own changes.

"It is a deal for a brighter future, which enables us to seize the opportunities that lie ahead".

The prime minister said she would be campaigning "with [her] heart and soul" to get MPs to pass the deal in the House of Commons and "honour the result of the referendum".

"If this deal doesn't go through, what happens is we end up back at square one", May said.

"With Brexit settled", the government will be able to focus on issues such as the economy, the NHS and building homes, she added. But, with a bigger aspiration: to bring the country together.

What will happen at the summit?

May hopes to leave Brussels on Sunday with a firm agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain's departure from the European Union on March 29, as well as a comprehensive negotiating text on how future relations should look like once both sides agree on a trade agreement. This document sets out the terms of Brexit in the wake of a landmark June 2016 referendum, which saw 52 percent of voters opting to leave the club the United Kingdom had joined in 1973.

Sunday newspapers said different factions in her own Conservative party were preparing alternative plans to keep Britain closer to the European Union should her deal fail as many expect.

Spain was furious that the article did not explicitly state that the deal would not apply to Gibraltar without their agreement - a condition that appeared in the negotiating guidelines given by the European Council to the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the outset of the Brexit process.

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Media captionWhat's in the political declaration?

"Now it is time for everybody to take their responsibilities, everybody", he said.

Molly Scott Cato, a British MEP who represents Gibraltar, said it "looks like the government has sold out Gibraltar and abandoned talk of a future trade deal that works for the whole British family".

If the European Union signs off the withdrawal deal, May will then need to persuade MPs in the UK Parliament to back it.

She plans to spend the next couple of weeks selling it to politicians and the British public before Parliament's vote in December.

Berlin had earlier said there could be no more technical negotiations at the summit, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel could skip it if all the texts are not ready in advance. It will also need to be ratified by the European Parliament.

May insists her deal delivers the on the things that matter most to pro-Brexit voters - control of budgets, immigration policy and laws - while retaining close ties to the U.K.'s European neighbors.

And the Sunday Telegraph reported several senior ministers are working on a plan B - for a Norway-style relationship with the EU.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking at Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party conference on Saturday, said the United Kingdom was on the verge of "making a historic mistake" and there was still time to work for a better deal.

But it dropped its threat after saying it had received assurances from the UK.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez threatened to veto the Brexit withdrawal agreement if no changes were made over Gibraltar- a disputed overseas British territory Spain has sovereignty claims over.

He said there was a suspicion that Spanish ministers were "showboating a little for the domestic electorate" on the eve of elections in the south of Spain.

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