LAST-MINUTE talks to resolve the Irish border issue ensured “sufficient progress” have been made to move Brexit negotiations on to Phase 2
The full report outlining the Ireland agreement, rights of EU citizens in the UK and the controversial Brexit divorce bill was published this morning.
An agreement between the UK and EU collapsed at the 11th hour on Monday when the DUP objected to plans for “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic to maintain a soft border between the two.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster said six “substantial changes” had been made to the Brexit deal regarding the Irish border before Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled the breakthrough agreement.
The agreement promises there will be no hard border and to uphold the Belfast agreement and makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.
It gives no details on how an open border will actually work but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement.
The concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Good Friday agreement.
Critics of the deal, however, fear there has been little real movement on the Irish border issue and the arguments that nearly torpedoed the deal earlier this will now simply rumble on into Phase 2.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said: “We have achieved all that we set out to achieve.”
He said the parameters on the “Irish issues” had been set – and they were met.
Mr Varadkar paraphrased Winston Churchill, saying: “This is not the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”
Earlier, Mrs May moved to reassure Northern Ireland’s unionists.
She said: “This Government will continue to govern in the interests of the whole community in Northern Ireland and uphold the agreements that have underpinned the huge progress that has been made over the past two decades.”
Source The Express