Negotiators feel the deal thrashed out by Mrs May and signed off last week has built-in advantages for the EU when talks about a future trading arrangement get underway. Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s controversial top civil servant is said to have told EU ambassadors: “The power is with us!” His comments were reported as the Government prepares to set out its analysis of the economic impact of Brexit on the UK economy.
Downing Street said the papers will cover a “range of scenarios” as the Prime Minister seeks to press her case that the agreement represents the only way to protect jobs and investment while avoiding the chaos of a no-deal break.
The Treasury analysis is expected to conclude the UK will be far better off under the terms of Mrs May’s controversial agreement with Brussels than if it faced a disorderly Brexit with a no-deal break.
Ministers have also agreed to publish their assessment of the impact on the economy if Britain were to stay in the EU, having been faced with the prospect of a damaging Commons defeat if they refused.
Mrs May will argue the agreement offers the prospect of an “unprecedented economic partnership” with the EU after Brexit.
While Mrs May continues to appeal directly to voters to support her plan, some questioned whether she would not have been better off remaining in Westminster trying to win over MPs who will decide whether to back the agreement in the vote on December 11.
With scores of Tory MPs having declared publicly they will vote against the deal, and Labour and the other opposition parties also firmly opposed, ministers have acknowledged the parliamentary arithmetic is “challenging”.
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8.36am update: Hammond admits Brexit will harm UK economy
Chancellor Philip Hammond has admitted “in pure economic terms” the UK will be worse off under all possible Brexit outcomes.
He told Sky News: “If you look only at economic benefits, yes there will be a cost to leaving the European Union.”
His comments came ahead of the publication of analysis of the impact of Theresa May’s Brexit deal by the Treasury and the Department for Exiting the European Union.
Mr Hammond said: “It will show that a ‘no deal’ exit will have a much higher impact on the economy than the deal the Prime Minister has negotiated.”
He said the draft Withdrawal Agreement offers the political benefits of being out with “very little economic cost” to the UK.
Mr Hammond admitted analysis of Mrs May’s Brexit plan shows the economy will be “slightly smaller” under her preferred option.
The Chancellor said that under any scenario, in a “purely economic sense” the UK will be worse off than if it stayed in the EU, as exiting will created “impediments to our trade”.
8.06am update: Business leader hails May’s Brexit deal
Chemicals giant Ineos said it is backing the Government’s proposed EU withdrawal agreement.
The company, which runs the huge Grangemouth site in Scotland, said an agreement providing frictionless trade between the UK and the EU while giving the UK freedom to develop its own long-term global trading relationships would advance the economy.
It said the withdrawal agreement creates a “sensible” transition period which should allow both parties the time to develop those long-term agreements.
Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe said: “I have made no secret of the fact that, whilst I have long supported the concept of a Common Market within Europe, I have never felt comfortable with the concept of ever closer union.
“A Brexit deal that moves us closer to an open European market has my full support.
“The Government’s withdrawal agreement is a pragmatic and sensible arrangement to allow final negotiations to take place and the outlined political agreement moves us to a long-term position that I would support.”
7.30pm update: Bill Cash calls for publication of Brexit legal advice
Tory Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash has backed Labour’s call to the Government to release the full legal advice on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The veteran MP said the public needed to know if Brussels had a veto over the UK leaving any backstop arrangement in Northern Ireland, saying if so then we would “never be able to leave the EU”.
Downing Street is reluctant to comply with a House of Commons motion passed earlier this month ordering them to release the entirety of the advice given to Cabinet by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
Asked if the publication of a truncated version of the advice, known as a “reasoned political statement”, would be enough for him, Sir Bill said: “Well it doesn’t look like it.
“The position, in a nutshell, is going to be about the question of whether or not the EU has a veto over our leaving the backstop in Northern Ireland.
“This is absolutely crucial because if that were to be the case and the EU does have a veto, then we’ll never be able to leave the EU or strike trade deals. So, it’s that important.”