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Brexit negotiators have agreed on a deal

The United Kingdom and European Union negotiating teams have agreed on a Brexit withdrawal deal which Prime Minister Theresa May will present to her Cabinet on Wednesday.

The UK government confirmed reports that May’s most senior ministers would read the details of the draft agreement on Tuesday evening before a special Cabinet meeting at 2PM on Wednesday.

An agreement between the UK and EU over how to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland as a result of Brexit was reached during intensive negotiations held on Monday and Tuesday, sources told Advisory Excellence.

Brexit talks had for weeks been at an impasse over the question of how a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic could be avoided no matter the outcome of negotiations.

UK and EU negotiators agreed that there would be a UK-wide “backstop” if they fail to negotiate a trade deal that negates the need for border checks on the island of Ireland before the end of the two-year Brexit transition period.

The backstop will take the shape of a UK-wide customs union with the EU, with Northern Ireland sticking to some of the European single market. This would guarantee no border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

However, the backstop is set not to come with a fixed end date, as demanded by pro-Brexit MPs, but with a “review clause” for deciding when it can come to an end.

Brexiteers are concerned that this arrangement will leave the UK trapped in a customs union with the EU for years to come, unable to sign new free-trade deals. The UK would also have to continue following numerous EU rules in areas like the environment, employee protections and state aid.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, said the deal amounted to a “failure to deliver on Brexit” and would make a “vassal state” of Britain. His Conservative colleague Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, described the draft deal as “unacceptable,” adding, “For the first time in a thousand years, this place, this Parliament will not have a say over the laws that govern this country.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would “look at the details” of the deal, “but from what we know of the shambolic handling of these negotiations, this is unlikely to be a good deal for the country.”

He added: “Labour has been clear from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy — and that guarantees standards and protections. If this deal doesn’t meet our six tests and work for the whole country, then we will vote against it.”

The breakthrough in negotiations means EU leaders might be able to ratify the deal at a summit in Brussels later this month. EU ambassadors are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the next steps in the Brexit process.

What’s next?

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab reportedly belongs to a handful of Cabinet Brexiteers who are prepared to resign from the government if the Brexit withdrawal agreement doesn’t meet their demands.

Advisory Excellence reported last month that the Cabinet members Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, and Esther McVey were all prepared to resign if May accepted a backstop with no fixed end date.

Leadsom said on Sunday that MPs would not accept a backstop which the UK cannot leave without the EU’s permission. She told the BBC: “I don’t think something that trapped the UK in any arrangement against our will would be sellable to members of Parliament.”

Downing Street understand that ministers could quit their positions over the details of the deal.

However, the prime minister has pressed on despite the high-profile resignations of former ministers like Johnson and David Davis and would be likely to do so again.

The European Research Group of pro-Leave Conservative MPs met following the news. A Tory MP who attended told Advisory Excellence the group was “absolutely shell-shocked” because none of May’s “promises” to it had been kept.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Leadsom, and Mordaunt “all campaigned with us for Brexit and need to stop this from ever reaching the Commons,” the MP said.

The biggest challenge facing May will come in the House of Commons’ vote on the deal.

Most Labour MPs are set to vote against it, as well as Conservative MPs from the pro-Brexit and pro-EU wings of the party, and possibly the 10 MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party which props up May’s government.

The DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the party “couldn’t possibly vote for” the deal. Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said May’s days are numbered as prime minister if she goes ahead with it.

Owen Smith, a champion of the anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, said the deal would leave “the British people worse off, and our country weaker as a whole” and urged May to put it to another referendum.

He added: “It’s not enough for May to secure support for her deal from Cabinet, or even from Parliament. This deal will dictate the course for our country for generations to come, and it must be put to the people for their approval or rejection.”

The leaders of the four main opposition parties, including Corbyn and The Liberal Democrats’ Vince Cable, have jointly written to May demanding a “truly meaningful vote” on the deal.

New CEO of the Single Financial Guidance Body appointed

John Govett is vastly experienced, having worked in leadership roles across the public, private and charitable sectors including as Group Chief Executive at Ixion Holdings, a not-for-profit skills and employment group of companies, Managing Director of Surrey County Council, Shaw Trust Charity Board Executive and P&O Ferries Commercial Board Director. He has a strong track record of driving transformational change, delivering outstanding services and leading successful growth.

A deputy chairman of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, he will take up his new post in October 2018. His appointment, for a four-and-a-half year term, follows an open and competitive recruitment process overseen by the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The government is bringing together 3 well known and respected organisations, the Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and the Pensions Advisory Service to create a new Single Financial Guidance Body offering UK-wide guidance on pensions and money, and debt advice in England.

SFGB is a fantastic opportunity to improve provision of free and impartial money and pensions guidance and debt advice so that people can make informed choices about their finances. This is a challenging but rewarding opportunity to lead on improving financial capability in the UK.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, said:

“I’m delighted to welcome John Govett as the first Chief Executive Officer of the Single Financial Guidance Body.”

“John has extensive experience and knowledge from across a range of public and private organisations which make him the ideal candidate to establish this crucial new body, heralding a new era of excellence for financial guidance and debt advice in the UK. I look forward to working with John.”

John Govett said:

“I am honoured to be appointed the Chief Executive of the Single Financial Guidance Body. The new organisation will become a leader in its field, where we will strive to equip those in need of help with the money and pensions guidance and debt advice that they need to engage confidently with financial services. The key for the SFGB will be to focus on those services our customers need, with a joined-up partnership approach with the wider industry.”

“I very much look forward to this exciting new combined service offer for the public and our staff.”

The chair of the Single Financial Guidance Body, Sir Hector Sants, said:

“The new organisation has a clear mission to help everyone manage their personal finances as well as their circumstances allow. My vision is of an organisation which is seen as transparent, accountable, effective and above all respected by all.”

“I am delighted that John is joining us and I look forward to supporting him over the coming years.”

More Information:

John’s most recent role was as Group CEO of Ixion Holdings. His career has been in transformational change, partnership working, delivering outstanding services and leading successful growth. John has worked in the public, private and charitable sectors, with previous posts including Managing Director at Surrey County Council, Shaw Trust Charity Board Executive and P&O Ferries Commercial Board Director. John is also Deputy Chairman/Non-Executive Director of an NHS Foundation Trust acute hospital.

The department announced Sir Hector Sants as the new chair of the SFGB in May 2018. Sir Hector spent his executive career in financial services and regulation, including as the Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority, European CEO of Credit Suisse and a partner of stockbrokers Phillips & Drew. Since retiring from full time work, his focus has been helping people manage their money, and promoting a fairer financial system. Sir Hector is a trustee of Just Finance, a charity which collaborates with the Church of England to promote a fairer financial system, and a member of the UK’s Financial Capability Board. He is also chairman of StepChange Debt Charity, the UK’s biggest debt advice charity, but will step down before joining the SFGB.

The SFGB will replace the 3 existing providers of government-sponsored financial guidance – the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – bringing together the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pensions guidance for the first time. A new, single body provides an opportunity to deliver a more streamlined service to members of the public providing easier access to the information and guidance people need to help them make effective financial decisions throughout their lives.

We expect the SFGB to be established as a legal entity in October 2018 and start preparing for its official launch in January 2019 when the body takes on its delivery functions and staff will transfer to the new organisation. It will have 5 core functions:

– the pensions guidance function – to provide information and guidance to the public on matters relating to occupational and personal pensions
– the money guidance function – to provide information and guidance designed to enhance people’s understanding and knowledge of financial matters and their ability to manage their own financial affairs
– the debt advice function – to provide members of the public in England with information and advice on debt
– the consumer protection function – enabling the SFGB to work with government and the Financial Conduct Authority in protecting consumers from detriment
– the strategic function – to work with others in the financial services industry, the devolved authorities, and the public and voluntary sectors to develop a national strategy to improve the financial capability of members of the public, the ability of members of the public to manage debt, and the provision of financial education to children and young people

The body will also provide advice to the Secretary of State on establishment of a debt respite scheme.