Brexit: UK and EU agree new Brexit deal with revised Northern Ireland Protocol and Political Declaration

Brexit: UK and EU agree new Brexit deal with revised Northern Ireland Protocol and Political Declaration

Need to talk more about Brexit? Well here you go…

Despite repeated insistence from Brussels that the draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May and Northern Irish backstop were sacrosanct and could not be re-opened, the European Union has this morning agreed to a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (and consequential technical adaptations to Articles 184 and 185 of the Agreement) along with a new text for the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and UK.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is recommending that the European Council adopt the new text.

The new Protocol on Ireland can be read here.

The new Political Declaration can be read here.

The EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, has just explained at a Brussels press conference that the replacement for the previous Irish backstop “rests on four main elements”: that Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods; Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory but will “remain an entry point” into the EU’s single market; an agreement to maintain the integrity of the single market and satisfy the UK’s legitimate wishes over VAT; Northern Ireland representatives will be able to decide “by simple majority” whether to continue applying union rules in Northern Ireland or not, every four years.

Boris Johnson welcomed “a great new deal that takes back control”, unlike the deal agreed by the May administration, under which “Brussels maintained ultimate control and could have forced Britain to accept EU laws and taxes for ever”. He emphasised that his deal means “we will leave the EU Customs Union as one United Kingdom and be able to strike trade deals all around the world” and added that it “established a new relationship with the EU based on free trade and friendly cooperation”.

However, after the deal was announced the Democratic Unionist Party said an earlier statement saying it could not yet back the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans “still stands”. That statement, issued at 6.45am, said that the party “could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues, and there is a lack of clarity on VAT”. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has urged the rejection of “an even worse deal than Theresa May’s” which risks “triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections: putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover by US private corporations”.

More reaction and analysis will follow… 



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