Britain Prime Minister Theresa May Unveils Draft 'Brexit' Agreement British Prime Minster Theresa May unveiled the draft agreement reached with the European Union on the future relationship with the United Kingdom after it leaves next year.
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Britain Prime Minister Theresa May Unveils Draft 'Brexit' Agreement

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Britain Prime Minister Theresa May Unveils Draft 'Brexit' Agreement

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May Unveils Draft 'Brexit' Agreement

Britain Prime Minister Theresa May Unveils Draft 'Brexit' Agreement

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/670313754/670313755" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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British Prime Minster Theresa May unveiled the draft agreement reached with the European Union on the future relationship with the United Kingdom after it leaves next year.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Across the Atlantic, the difficult march towards Brexit continues. Today, officials in the United Kingdom and the European Union approved a draft agreement on their future relationship after the U.K. leaves next year. But, as usual, British politicians of all stripes savaged it in Parliament. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from London.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Speaking in Britain's House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May insisted her government had negotiated a good deal, one that would allow Britain to control migration, eventually take back the power to make its own laws and still maintain a close relationship with Europe.

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PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: Mr. Speaker, the British people want Brexit to be settled. 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.

LANGFITT: But members of Parliament had a series of objections and one big fear. If the U.K. can't strike a new free trade agreement with the EU, they worry their country will be forced to submit to European customs regulations for years to avoid the need for a new customs post that would divide the island of Ireland, effectively trapping the U.K. inside the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said May's agreement put the country in an even weaker position.

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JEREMY CORBYN: It represents the worst of all worlds - no say over the rules that will continue to apply and no certainty of the future. It's clear from this document that, indeed, nothing is agreed. This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared, a leap in the dark.

LANGFITT: May tried to sell her deal to the House, but even some members of her own Conservative Party shouted her down.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAY: Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT: No.

MAY: Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle...

UNIDENTIFIED MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT: No.

MAY: Yes, it does.

UNIDENTIFIED MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT: No.

LANGFITT: The EU takes up the deal this Sunday in Brussels. But the prime minister's biggest challenge awaits next month, when she tries to get the agreement through her own Parliament.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London.

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