Brexit: The Difference Between The Withdrawal Agreement And Political Declaration?
28 March 2019, 14:27 | Updated: 29 March 2019, 13:02
Theresa May has announced she has split the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration to try to get her deal through parliament. LBC's Political Editor Theo Usherwood explains what that means.
Part 1: The Withdrawal Agreement
This relates to the £39billion, citizens rights both here in the UK and British citizens in the EU and then the backstop on the Northern Ireland border. This is a legally-binding document and from the EU's point of view, it has to be passed by the British and the European Parliaments before the UK can leave the European Union with a deal. If we can't pass this withdrawal agreement by tomorrow, we can't leave the EU with a deal.
Part 2: The Political Declaration
This is something that Theresa May drew up with the European Union about what the future relationship between the European Union and the UK would look like. This isn't legally binding and was meant to form the basis of trade talks.
Yesterday, Theresa May announced she wouldn't lead the second phase of negotiations, so what it appears the government have done today is to say 'Forget about the Political Declaration, we just need to leave on 22nd May'. For that to happen, we need to pass the withdrawal agreement. That is a fact.
Previously, the government were going after DUP and ERG votes to get her deal through Parliament. That isn't going to happen. The votes simply aren't there, especially after the DUP said yesterday they weren't prepared to support it.
So now she's trying to force Labour's hand. She's going to say to Jeremy Corbyn 'You say you want Brexit, you said you were willing to honour Brexit, you need to vote for this withdrawal agreement'.
When Mr Corbyn went to see the Prime Minister on Monday for that hour-long meeting, they saw this trap - because it is a trap for Labour given they are so split - and insisted she couldn't try to separate the Withdrawal Agreement from the Political Declaration.
This will leave a blind Brexit
This leaves possibly the Oliver Letwin indicative votes to force the government into a Customs Union.
But if the government go ahead with this vote tomorrow, we are essentially jumping off a cliff into a pool of what. And we don't know if that pool is a paddling poor or a very deep swimming pool full of sharks.
That's not judging it one way or the other, we just don't know.
The vote will be at 2.30pm with the results at 2.45pm
If the Government wins, then the UK will be able to leave the European Union on the 22nd of May.
If it loses, then it is unclear what will happen next - a long delay, a no-deal Brexit, an election and a second referendum are all possible.