Brexit: EU and UK reach deal but DUP refuse support

4 weeks ago
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A Brexit deal has been agreed between UK and EU negotiating teams before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control.”

The two sides have been working on the legal text of a deal, but it will still need the approval of both the UK and European parliaments.

The DUP has said it will not vote for the deal, potentially scuppering it.

In a statement, the Northern Irish party, which the government relies on for support in key votes, said: “These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal sounded “even worse” than what was negotiated by the PM’s predecessor, Theresa May, and “should be rejected” by MPs.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a “fair and balanced agreement”.

Both he and Mr Johnson have urged their respective parliaments to back the deal.

No 10 sources have told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg that Mr Johnson will later ask EU leaders to reject requests for an extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October.

MPs passed a law in September that requires the PM to request an extension on 19 October if Parliament has not agreed a deal or backed leaving without a deal by that date.

MPs will later vote on whether to hold an extra sitting in the Commons on Saturday to discuss the next steps.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said if the sitting was approved, the government would hold a vote on the deal.

He said he was “not contemplating defeat”, but if the plan did not get the backing of MPs, the alternative was leaving without a deal.

The DUP has been in an agreement with the Conservative Party since the 2017 election, which, in the past, gave the government a working majority.

But after resignations and the removal of the party whip from more than 20 Tory MPs in recent weeks, Mr Johnson now could face a tough battle to get his deal through Parliament.

Mr Barnier said he and Mr Juncker had been told by the PM “he has faith in his ability to convince the majority he needs in the House of Commons”.

What is in the deal?

Most of the deal is the same as the one agreed by Theresa May last year – the main change is the Northern Ireland proposals.

  • The UK will continue to abide by EU rules until the end of 2020, and possibly longer, to allow businesses to adjust
  • The UK will still pay an estimated £39bn “divorce bill”
  • The rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, will be guaranteed

What’s changed?

  • Northern Ireland will be aligned to the EU single market
  • The controversial “backstop” – that critics feared could have kept the UK in a customs union with the EU indefinitely – has been removed
  • Northern Ireland will instead remain a part of the UK’s customs territory, so it will be included in any future trade deals struck by the government after Brexit
  • But Northern Ireland will also remain an entry point into the EU’s customs zone. The UK will apply tariffs to products entering Northern Ireland as long as they are not destined for onward transportation across the border
  • A joint EU/UK committee will decide which goods are at risk of entering the single market and the UK will collect EU tariffs on them on behalf of the EU
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly – which has been suspended since January 2017 – will get a vote every four years on whether to continue with the new trading arrangements
  • The decision would be based on a simple majority, rather than requiring a majority of both unionists and nationalists to support the rules in order for them to pass

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Leader of the Commons and Brexit supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was a “really exciting day today in British politics” as he urged MPs to “rally round this great deal”.

But Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage called for it to be rejected by Parliament, saying it would mean “we will not be making our own laws in our own country” and said the treaty “binds us in to other commitments”.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson also condemned the deal as “bad for our economy, bad for our public services, and bad for our environment”.

The pro-Remain MP said the “fight to stop Brexit is far from over”, adding: “The next few days will set the direction of our country for generations, and I am more determined than ever to stop Brexit.”

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