Ahead of this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, and the actual publication of whatever withdrawal agreement the Prime Minister has reached with the EU, what do we know about its contents?
Not a lot, frankly. But two things do seem pretty clear:
1. It includes a provision for Northern Ireland and Great Britain to be under different regulatory and legal regimes.
2. It includes a provision for the whole UK to stay effectively in the Customs Union, with Great Britain being subject to some elements of the Single Market and Northern Ireland being subject to even more by remaining in the Single Market for goods.
Those bare facts have knock-on implications – for a border of some sort in the Irish Sea, for example – and raise further questions, such as around how or if the UK, or Great Britain, or Northern Ireland, could ever exit such arrangements, and who would have the power to make such a decision.
What is reported to be a 500-page document will no doubt contain many other aspects to what Theresa May is proposing, too, and it’s worth remembering that these two points are all that we really know at this stage. The Government appears to be citing that lack of information as a reason for MPs and others to hold fire until they know the whole picture – but for a variety of people this is already enough to form their views on the plan.