THE Parliamentary Brexit Committee has delivered a unanimous damning verdict on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, saying it fails to deliver on promises made by the Government and contains no useful detail.

The Committee’s report – agreed unanimously by members from across the political divide – states that the deal offered by the Prime Minister fails to offer a clear vision or enough certainties regarding the UK’s future.

The 50-page document offers a scathing review of the Government’s failure to make “fundamental choices” or adequately assess the trade-offs on the post-Brexit horizon, despite 20 months of intense negotiations.

The National:

In a statement, Committee chair, Hilary Benn MP, said: “It is because the Government has refused to face up to the hard choices confronting us that this deal would represent a huge step into the unknown.

“The Political Declaration falls far short of the ‘detailed and substantive’ document promised by former secretaries of swtate and by the EU chief

READ MORE: The deal is dead - May's time in Downing Street is coming to an end

negotiator, Michel Barnier. It does not give the British people or our businesses the clarity and the certainty they need about our future trading relationship with the EU in five or 10 years’ time.”

And with these negotiations having not even having started yet, this could take years to sort out.

The committee also found that May’s proposal failed to pass all but one of their 15 Brexit tests, intended to act as a yard stick for judging the Brexit deal.

Benn called upon MPs to use the report as a cognitive bias upon which to make their voting decisions this week, adding: “It is now time for colleagues to decide on the Prime Minister’s deal.

‘‘Throughout this process, the select committee has always argued for Parliament to be given a full and proper role, and a vote on what has been negotiated.

“The opportunity to do that is now before us, and I hope this report, with its detailed analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration, will help members on all sides of the House to make their decision.”

The committee findings include:


THE backstop, agreed by the UK and EU in December 2017, was negotiated to ensure the avoidance of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The committee noted that the Government’s proposals towards maintaining frictionless trade and an open border had already been rejected by the EU.

Additionally, the report found that the Government had completely failed to address concerns over maintaining an open border despite leaving the single market and customs union.

READ MORE: This deal is dead - May's time in Downing Street is coming to an end

It states: “In December 2017, we said that we did not see how it would be possible to reconcile maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland with leaving the single market and customs union, which would inevitably make the Northern Irish border the UK’s customs and regulatory border with the European Union. Since then, we have seen no realistic, long-term proposals from the Government that would address this.”

The committee made clear that the commitment to avoid a hard border means that the activation of the

backstop in July 2020 following the transition period would create immediate barriers to EU-UK trade and result in economic disruption.

Therefore, the UK would be unable to negotiate any trade or customs arrangements which threatened this pledge, placing further restrictions on the Government’s bargaining power.


SOME of the strongest terms were reserved for progress on issues still to be negotiated, the report stating that the Government “has still not yet set out clear objectives for the future relationship that are realistic, workable and have the support of Parliament”, and its aim to conclude talks on the future relationship by 2020 branded “likely to be unrealistic” given that discussions on withdrawal have taken 18 months.

The paper lays bare a long list of issues still to be discussed, including, “trade in goods and services, foreign policy coordination, policing and information sharing, participation in EU agencies, agriculture, fisheries, data, labour mobility and the recognition of professional qualifications, broadcasting, intellectual property, public procurement, consumer safety, aviation, freight, energy, medicines, and scientific co-operation”.

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And regardless of the progress of the above, the fact remains that UK services will still have less access to trade freely across the EU without single market membership.

Following these discussions, each of the 27 EU member states could still exercise a veto on the final deal, while another difficulty facing May’s proposed timescale is the European Parliament elections in 2019 and subsequent appointment of a new European Commission.


MAY is also warned that for “the sake of the future of the United Kingdom, it is essential that the voices of the devolved administrations are heard”. This advice precedes the committee’s concerns over the Prime Minister’s “perceived shortcomings” of her involvement of devolved parliaments in meaningful discussions thus far.

The big focus remains upon the UK’s external relationship with the EU, however the committee serves another cold reminder that the onus is on Theresa May’s Government to ensure that all corners of the UK participate on a meaningful level in the discussions now and those to come.

Committee member SNP MP Joanna Cherry said it had taken members less time than expected to agree a position on the deal.

In today’s Sunday National, she said: ‘‘Normally we spend hours or days debating our reports but, on this occasion, after a couple of hours’ discussion our 40-page report published today was agreed unanimously.

‘‘So, a committee including hard-line Brexiteers, MPs who favour variously a soft Brexit, Norway Plus and a People’s Vote with an option to remain; nationalists and Unionists, has united to condemn the deal.


While Tuesday’s “meaningful vote” looks likely to mark the latest setback for the Prime Minister, it is not the only date which will be playing on her mind.

There are serious outstanding issues yet to be clarified, such as citizen’s rights and the report deems that “it would be unacceptable for the Government not to publish the White Paper on immigration before the vote on December 11”.

Further afield, the European Council will meet for a summit on December 13 and if the deal is voted down as expected, will present May with a chance to pursue further talks with member states.

May would then have to present a revised deal to Parliament by December 20, before Parliament breaks up for Christmas.

The Brexit Committee report ultimately determines that the process will not be concluded by March 2019, instead predicting that negotiations may continue for “a number of years”. Given that Parliament has now had time to take stock of alternatives, an extension of Article 50 has become a real possibility.