New Brexit deal agreed: Boris Johnson

London, Oct 17

A Brexit deal has been agreed between UK and EU negotiating teams before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels, reports said.

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Thursday, the BBC reported.

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

However, Juncker and Johnson have urged their respective parliaments to approve the deal, it is still uncertain whether it will be backed by a majority of MPs in the Parliament as Northern Ireland party DUP has rejected it.

“We have been involved in ongoing discussions with the government. As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT,” a statement from DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party’s Commons leader, Nigel Dodds, said.

“We will continue to work with the government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK.

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

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

Johnson’s proposals for a new Brexit deal hinged on getting rid of the controversial backstop – the solution negotiated between Theresa May and the EU to solve issues around the Irish border after the UK leaves.

By removing it, he hoped to secure the support of Brexiteers in his own party and the DUP – which could hold the key to getting the numbers for a successful vote in the Commons.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the new deal rests on four main elements:

That Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods

That Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory, but will “remain an entry point” into the EU’s single market

That there is an agreement to maintain the integrity of the single market and satisfy the UK’s legitimate wishes over VAT

That Northern Ireland representatives will be able to decide whether to continue applying union rules in Northern Ireland or not every four years

Barnier told a press conference in Brussels that the final point – allowing for votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly – was “a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach”.

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.

The DUP has been in a confidence and supply 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, Johnson now could face a tough battle to get his deal through Parliament.

Read more