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Wed Nov 14, 2018, 09:15 AM

Brexit : Theresa May's draft withdrawal agreement..and Farage gets pwned

Fisticuffs await at Westminster

What is the withdrawal agreement?

Think of it as the separation agreement between the UK and the EU. Running to a rumoured 400 to 600 pages, it covers three main areas:

Britain’s financial settlement with the EU to meet agreed commitments.
The post-Brexit rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU.
A mechanism to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The agreement also includes a much shorter (and non-binding) political declaration, probably of about 15 pages, outlining what the two sides see as their desired future trading relationship – which remains to be negotiated.


So how has this been resolved?


The solution appears to involve concessions on both sides. On the EU side, the chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has accepted the idea of a whole-UK customs union with the EU, satisfying the UK’s demands that its territorial integrity must be preserved.

But in return, Britain must agree that it will not be allowed to exit the backstop unless and until the EU agrees there is no prospect of a return to a hard border. In addition, it will have to accept special “deeper” customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, and the EU’s so-called “level playing-field” conditions for the whole of the UK.These address member states’ concerns that de facto customs union membership without the obligations of the single market could give the UK an unfair advantage, so will require Britain to observe EU rules on, for example, state aid, competition, the environment, tax and labour market rules.


The Northern Ireland unionists of the DUP – on whose votes in Westminster the government relies for its majority – also fear “deeper” customs arrangements and additional checks on livestock and food crossing the Irish Sea breach the party’s red lines on identical treatment for Northern Ireland.



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