Brexit breakthrough – but border issue kicked into long grass

PUBLISHED: 06:51 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:21 08 December 2017

Prime minister Theresa May with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Prime minister Theresa May with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

PA Wire/PA Images

Brexit negotiations will move on to trade talks after the European Commission agreed “sufficient progress” had been made.

The DUP finally gave the green light after changes were made to the wording of the proposals over the Irish border.

Leader Arlene Foster said she had been “negotiating directly with the Prime Minister” into the early hours and received “very clear confirmation that the entirety of the UK is leaving the EU, leaving the single market, leaving the customs union”.

Speaking in Brussels Theresa May said the agreement ensured there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa.

The Prime Minister said there would be no special arrangements for Northern Ireland and the whole of the UK would be leaving the single market and customs union in an apparent U-turn from her position earlier in the week. But sources suggested the deal could mean regulatory alignment between the whole of the UK and EU after Brexit.

The official wording outlines the desire of both sides that any final trade deal will apply to the whole of the UK but if that fails the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland will be considered. This means that both the UK and EU have effectively parked the thorny issue.

The breakthrough will likely ease the pressure on May for now but the ambiguity of the statement could spook hardline Brexiteers.

Foster said the proposal included “substantial changes” to the plan which was rejected by the DUP on Monday.

“We think that there have been substantial changes made to that text since Monday,” Foster added. “As you know, on Monday we were unhappy with the text when we received it in late morning. We felt there wasn’t enough clarity, particularly round the very important issue of access to the GB market.

“There have been changes right throughout the text and we believe there have been six substantive changes.

“For me it means there’s no red line down the Irish Sea.”

Theresa May and David Davis arrived in Brussels to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier before dawn this morning.

The meeting follows a flurry of diplomacy by May yesterday and overnight that fuelled speculation that an agreement on plans to maintain a soft Irish border was edging closer.

Juncker said the decision on whether to move forward to talks on trade and the transition to a post-Brexit relationship was in the hands of the leaders of the 27 other EU nations, meeting in Brussels at a European Council summit on Thursday, but said he was “confident” they would do so.

The Commission president said: “I will always be sad about this development, but now we must start looking to the future, a future in which the UK will remain a close friend and ally.”

May said that intensive talks over the past few days had delivered “a hard-won agreement in all our interests”.

The Prime Minister said that the agreement would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”.

She said that it included a financial settlement which was “fair to the British taxpayer” and a guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic, preserving the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.

She said that the agreement between the UK and the Commission, being published in a joint report, would offer “welcome certainty” to businesses.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said the government was content at assurances it had achieved about avoiding a hard border. He said there was now “no scenario” that would result in new border checkpoints.

“Ireland supports Brexit negotiations moving to phase two now that we have secured assurances for all on the island of Ireland,” he said.

He said the deal “fully protected” the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and an all-Ireland economy.

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy