17:40 GMT +318 December 2018
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    European Commission Releases Draft Brexit Agreement

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    The European Commission has published the text of a draft agreement on UK withdrawal, comprised of more than 500 pages of legal text.

    The draft document is comprised of 585 pages of text and states that UK and EU will access each other's markets based around principle of equivalence.

    The draft Brexit accord also says that unique circumstances on the Island of Ireland needs a unique solution. The Ireland protocol intended to apply only temporarily, unless and until superseded, the draft says, also stating that UK and EU would use best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by the end of 2020.

    The draft agreement text says that UK can request the extension of transition period at any time before July 1, 2020. The transition may be extended by mutual consent.

    The draft says the UK commits to avoiding a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls in Northern Ireland. Until future relationship applies, EU and UK will establish a single customs territory, while Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain.

    READ MORE: EU Will Retain All Controls — Reported Leak From Brussels on May's Brexit Deal

    ​Meanwhile, the European Union’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in his speech that the UK will remain ally and partner of the European Union after Brexit. He said that Brussels is ready to start negotiations on the future trade deal with UK immediately after Great Britain leaves EU.

    The negotiator noted that EU and UK have achieved decisive progress toward orderly Great Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

    Following a crunch cabinet meeting at Downing Street on Wednesday, Theresa May came out victorious to announce her senior ministers upheld the government's Brexit deal. Now that the Cabinet signed the deal off, the PM will have to face the House of Commons full of unhappy faces, including the Labour opposition, hard Tory Brexiteers and Northern Irish unionists feeling betrayed by Mrs. May's decision on the backstop issue.

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