All this talk of deal or no deal..
Is there really a deal?
The Prime Minister and the European Union have agreed terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Essentially, this is the legal divorce agreement but does not legally commit either side to a future relationship. Legally, there can only be discussions on future trade and co-operation once the divorce has been settled. Like all divorces, this takes into account assets, money which has been owed or promised and provision for dependents.
The Prime Minister cannot get Parliament to back the negotiated agreement and has therefore asked for an extension. The document which is attached attempts to set out in very simple terms what the agreement is about.
Issues around the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic have become very contentious. Once the UK leaves the European Union, there is a transition period for both parties to put their houses in order and to work on trade and co-operation agreements.
The fear is that if there is no resolution to these negotiations, then the Withdrawal Agreement conditions would be employed. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, there would be no physical border on the island of Ireland and goods would be able to move freely from North to South. However, to ensure that those goods comply with EU regulations, customs arrangements and standards, there would have to be uniformity in customs arrangements between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This would effectively mean that Northern Ireland would be bound to a customs union with the EU until a new trade deal was agreed. The other parts of the UK could remain in the same customs union or arrangement or leave. The latter would mean that good sent to Northern Ireland would also have to comply with EU legislation and standards.