What’s been agreed and why does it matter?
Three key things – Britain’s divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the thorny issue of the Irish border.
This opens the way for the crucial second round of negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal. While the joint document agreed by the two sides doesn’t mention a figure, it is estimated the UK will pay out between £35billion and £39billion to settle its account.
This covers its share of the EU budget to the end of 2020 as well as outstanding commitments and liabilities, such as pensions.
It’s a lot of money but far less than the £50billion or more previously suggested.
There are also safeguards for EU citizens in the UK and Britons living in other member states, along with their family members. But in what is likely to prove a bone of contention for some Leave supporters, it is proposed the European Court of Justice will continue to have a role overseeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK for eight years after Brexit.
Agreement was also reached over avoiding a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
In the absence of a trade deal, the UK will maintain “full alignment” with parts of the EU single market and customs union.
So everyone is happy?
Of course not. This is Brexit we are talking about. However, it is notable that leading Cabinet Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have given their backing to the deal.
The Foreign Secretary has congratulated the PM for her “determination” in reaching the agreement, while Mr Gove described it as a “significant personal political achievement for the Prime Minister”.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the development was “encouraging” and even Nicola Sturgeon said the deal represented “a welcome step forward”.
But in a sideswipe at the Prime Minister, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the deal was “good news for Mrs May as we can now move on to the next stage of humiliation”.
What happens next?
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will recommend the leaders of the other 27 EU states give the go-ahead for the start of trade negotiations this Thursday.
Chancellor Philip Hammond recently revealed that the Cabinet has not yet had a full discussion, let alone decided on the Government’s preferred “end state position” for the UK after Brexit.
The Cabinet is finally expected to discuss the plan for Brexit on December 19.
If you think it has been a rollercoaster ride so far, hold on tight.