K E Y P O I N T S
A deal has been reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom on phase one of the Brexit talks.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker revealed early on Friday morning that “sufficient progress” has now been made.
This opens the way for negotiations on the future trade relationship between the UK and EU to begin.
Theresa May said the deal makes sure there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The prime minister said the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU will be protected
A financial settlement will be paid by the UK to the EU which is “fair to the British taxpayer”, May said.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was now satisfied there would now be “no red line down the Irish Sea” separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
May will personally guarantee to the people of Ulster six promises, including leaving the EU customs union and single market and upholding the Good Friday Agreement peace deal
S N A P V E R D I C T
From Paul Waugh
The first hint of a real breakthrough came when the chief of staff of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted a photo of a puff of white smoke emerging from the Vatican. The DUP may not have found funny that the post-Brexit future of Northern Ireland was being referenced in a joke about the Pope being elected. And it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh.
DUP leader Arlene Foster was satisfied there would be ‘no red line down the Irish sea’, yet she hinted that the late-night telephone calls to No.10 had not been entirely to her liking. “We ran out of time essentially,” she said, adding “but the PM has decided to go to Brussels” despite that. For all the talk of May being a prisoner of her Ulster allies, it was Juncker’s firm deadline of Sunday night for reaching a Phase 1 deal that forced the issue overnight.
The wonderfully elastic phrase ‘regulatory alignment’ remains in the text, though with extra guarantees to the DUP that the issue will be sorted in the next phase of talks. And that’s what today is really about: a classic EU fudge that kicks the can down the road once more. Juncker was suspiciously nice to May this morning, and no wonder as he’s got his way on hard cash and EU citizens’ rights.
B E S T L I N E S
Getting to this point has required give and take on both sides Theresa May
Both sides had to listen to each other, adjust their position, and show their willingness to compromise Jean-Claude Juncker,
There are still matters there that we would have liked to see clarified – we ran out of time Arlene Foster
W H A T N E X T?
Brexit talks can now move onto phase two, sorting out a new trade deal between the UK and the EU. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, told a press conference the first task was to agree what a transition arrangement will look like before the UK leaves in March 2019. “So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task. And now, to negotiate a transition arrangement and a framework for our future relationship, we have de facto less than a year,” he said.