What Is the Brexit Deal and Can Theresa May Survive as British Prime Minister? Full Chaos Explained

After months of staring down the barrel of a no-deal Brexit or the United Kingdom's inability to strike an agreeable divorce deal with the EU, it looks like some progress has been made. Nevertheless, the future of the Brexit deal remains far from certain, and the next few months will be key.

On Wednesday, after subjecting journalists to about five hours of a closed-door live-streaming video at London's 10 Downing Street, the British government's headquarters, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the cabinet had given its approval for her deal.

The agreement put forth by May and accepted reluctantly by many members of her government has left the door open to the U.K. remaining in a customs union with the EU. It has also proposed a framework to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which will continue to be an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the U.K. and will leave the EU with the rest of Britain.

All 585 pages of the draft withdrawal agreement can be read here.

The border cutting Ireland in half has been perhaps the thorniest of all of the issues in the Brexit negotiations. An open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland has been key to forging peace in that territory. What's more, a hard border crossing would disrupt the flow of commerce and the free movement of people who cross the border daily to visit family or go to work.

"Under the constraints that the U.K. government imposed on itself, particularly its commitment to end [the] free movement of people, it is hard to improve on the deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated," said Dalibor Rohac, an expert on Europe at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in an emailed statement to Newsweek.

British Prime minister, Theresa May delivers a Brexit statement at Downing Street, in London, on November 14. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

But that doesn't mean that the negotiations are over or that the U.K is ready to make a clean break with Europe. The deal will still need to win the approval of the heads of state of all 27 EU members and be ratified by both the U.K.and the European parliaments. May is addressing the House of Commons on Thursday, and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is off to Strasbourg, France, to speak with European leaders there.

There is opposition to the deal from all sides. At least two of the U.K.'s government ministers have already quit over it: Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. In a letter of resignation, Raab said that he could not support the draft "in good conscience."

Earlier this morning I informed the Prime Minister I was resigning from her Cabinet pic.twitter.com/ZeBkL5n2xH

— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) November 15, 2018

Members of the European Parliament are expected to vote on the deal at the beginning of 2019.

"Brexit is most of all about people. It is about the rights of our citizens, preserving the peace in Northern Ireland and safeguarding jobs affected by the UK's departure," the European Parliament's President Antonio Tajani said in a statement Thursday.

May has signaled that she continues to prepare a contingency plan in case a no-deal scenario becomes a reality. But some have cast doubt over whether the prime minister, who is deeply unpopular with her colleagues, will manage to hold on to power for that long.

A referendum that took place on June 23, 2016, paved the way for a U.K. departure from the European bloc. More than 50 percent of voters selected "Leave," while 48.1 percent chose "Stay." Nearly 30 million people cast their vote, meaning that the referendum turnout was 71.8 percent of the population. The following year, the U.K. invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows both sides of the aisle to agree on the terms of the departure.