Brexit: five things we learned this week

Where do Theresa May’s Brexit plans stand after another week of intense political wrangling?

1. The cabinet will meet next week to agree its Brexit negotiating position. Theresa May told ministers on Tuesday to “stand by their diaries” and re-read their previous Brexit papers for the crunch meeting, which is expected to take place on either Monday or Tuesday. There is also likely be a warm-up conference call over the weekend for the prime minister to “sell progress” to colleagues in an attempt to sign them up to an agreed position.

2. Resolving the Irish backstop is the critical question. The backstop was intended to be an insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland if no long-term free trade agreement could be signed by the end of the transition period in 2020. May’s desired version has the UK agreeing to keeping the whole country in a customs union if needed. However, hard-Brexit Conservatives are concerned that without easy exit clauses, the temporary arrangement could become permanent.

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