Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a new Brexit deal has been brokered between the UK and the EU.
18:00 UPDATE — Johnson confirms EU leaders have approved the deal, and says it is time for people and parliamentarians to come together and “get this done”
Addressing a press conference in Brussels on Thursday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed: “The European Council has approved the agreement that’s been negotiated over the last couple of months and I thank them again for their work.”
The prime minister emphasised that he believed the deal was a good deal, saying: “I want to stress that this is a great deal for our country, for the UK, I believe it’s a very good deal for our friends in the EU.
“What it means is we in the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together. It means we can decide our future together, we can take back control of our money, our borders, and our laws, together, and we will be able to do free trade agreements around the world. We can also build, after three-and-a-half years, our relations with our friends and partners in the EU.”
On the upcoming vote in the House of Commons this weekend, Mr Johnson said: “I have every confidence that when my colleagues in parliament study this agreement, that they will want to vote for it on Saturday and in succeeding days.
“This is our chance in the UK, as democrats, to get Brexit done and come out on October 31st. This is our chance to focus on our priorities and the people’s priorities: the NHS, putting 20,000 police on the streets, lifting up funding of education across the country, the biggest expansion of living wage. Those are things I think the people of this country want us to be focusing on in addition to Brexit.”
He concluded: “We’ve been at this now for three-and-a-half years and it hasn’t always been an easy experience for the UK. It’s been long, it’s been painful, it’s been divisive. And now is the moment for us as a country to come together, now is the moment for our parliamentarians to come together and get this done to begin building a new and progressive partnership with our EU friends and with whom, of course, we share so many priorities.”
17:00 UPDATE — Johnson’s position on Brexit is either ‘this deal or no deal’ as Juncker rules out extension
A senior source speaking to Sky News has said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s position on Brexit is that the choice is either this new Brexit deal or leaving the EU in a clean break, affirming that there will be no delay.
The report comes as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters that Brexit “has to happen now” and there will be no deadline extension. For more on Mr Juncker’s remarks, read Breitbart London’s coverage here.
A senior UK official says Prime Minister Boris Johnson's position on Brexit is that it is the new deal or no deal and that there will be no delay
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) October 17, 2019
15:30 UPDATE — DUP “unable to support these proposals in parliament”, says they “undermine the integrity of the union”.
The Democratic Unionist Party said in a statement published this afternoon: “Saturday’s vote in Parliament on the proposals will only be the start of a long process to get any Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the House of Commons.”
The statement added: “Following confirmation from the Prime Minister that he believes he has secured a ‘great new deal’ with the European Union the Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament.
“The Democratic Unionist Party has worked since the referendum result to secure a negotiated deal as we leave the European Union.
“We have been consistent that we will only ever consider supporting arrangements that are in Northern Ireland’s long-term economic and constitutional interests and protect the integrity of the Union.
“These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”
The original story continues below…
The prime minister announced Thursday morning: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime, and our environment.”
We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment #GetBrexitDone #TakeBackControl
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 17, 2019
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker also said: “Where there is a will, there is a deal. We have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions.”
The Commission chief wrote in his letter: “As regards the withdrawal agreement itself, negotiations focused on the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland [ie, the backstop] and sought to identify a mutually satisfactory solution to address the specific circumstances on the island of Ireland.
“The negotiators also discussed the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Their aim was to adjust the political declaration in a way that reflects the different level of ambition now sought by the government of the United Kingdom for the country’s future relationship with the European Union.”
“I believe it is high time to complete the withdrawal process and move on, as swiftly as possible, to the negotiation on the European Union’s future partnership with the United Kingdom,” he added.
🇺 Where there is a will, there is a #deal – we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions. I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal. pic.twitter.com/7AfKyCZ6k9
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) October 17, 2019
Mr Juncker added that he recommends the EU27 endorse the deal during this week’s European summit. If the other EU nation-leaders back the proposal, the agreement would go to the British parliament on Saturday for a vote.
Doubt remains whether there is enough support in the House of Commons to pass a withdrawal agreement bill, with key player the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) sceptical that the deal in its current form was acceptable.
Support from the Northern Irish unionist party is key for the minority Conservative government. In a joint statement released on Thursday morning, before news of the agreed deal broke, DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds said that “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”.
Mrs Foster and Mr Dodds added: “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 United Kingdom.”
Post-announcement, the DUP was reported to have said: “Read our statement. It hasn’t changed.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 17, 2019
During a press conference this morning, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier outlined how Johnson’s team and Brussels settled on the proposed customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, maintaining that the plans prevent a so-called ‘hard border’ on the isle of Ireland and respect the UK’s position that Northern Ireland must remain in British customs territory.
“The solution that we found rests on four main elements,” Mr Barnier said. In point one, the Eurocrat said that Northern Ireland will remain part of a “limited” set of EU rules related to goods:
1) Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods. This means that all applicable procedures on goods will take place at the points entry into Northern Ireland and not across the island. For this purpose, UK authorities will be in charge of applying the Union’s customs code in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland will stay in the UK’s customs territory but also remain an entry point to the EU’s Single Market. According to Mr Barnier:
2) Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory. It will therefore beneift from the UK’s future trade policy. But Northern Ireland will also remain an entry point into our Single Market. UK authorities can apply tariffs on products coming from third countries — so long as those goods entering Northern Ireland are not at risk of entering our Single Market. For goods at risk of entering the Single Market, UK authorities will apply the EU’s tariffs.
On the third point related to Value Added Tax (VAT), Mr Barnier said both sides have “maintained the integrity of the Single Market”, but the deal will “also satisfy the UK’s wishes”.
Mr Barnier confirmed in the fourth point that the DUP had lost its veto over whether new arrangements come into force in Northern Ireland; instead, a simple majority vote will be held in Stormont, the country’s assembly. He said:
4) Prime Minister Johnson and the Taoiseach wanted to ensure long-term democratic support for the application by UK authorities of relevant union rules in Northern Ireland. Four years after the enforcement of the protocol, the representives of Northern Ireland will be able to decide by simple majority whether to continue applying relevant union rules in Northern Ireland or not. This democratic support is a cornerstone of our newly-agreed approach.
"For me, since day one, what really matters are the people, the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland, what really matters is peace" – Michel Barnier outlines the four key points in Brexit negotiations involving the island of Ireland
Latest: https://t.co/0i3FYxs5uO pic.twitter.com/vZwps8G88l
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 17, 2019
For reaction to the deal read here.