John Downing: 'The only five things you need to know about the Brexit deal'
Here are the only five things you need to know about the Brexit deal, rather than sifting through 586 pages of legal text.
1. It’s a divorce deal with the UK getting the departure terms ending 45 years of EU membership dating from 1973. Like many separating couples there need to be new relationship terms. In this case we’re talking about trade, security and other matters after Brexit. That could take anything from two to seven years to negotiate. Meantime a no-change transition period will run until at least December 2020. Everyone expects that period to be extended.
2. This draft EU-UK deal plans a UK-wide customs backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland. The UK would stay inside the EU customs union until that final trade deal. Brussels insisted on guarantees that Northern Ireland would have a “deeper” relationship with the EU on customs and product regulation.
3. It’s a win for Ireland. The key Irish issue has always been to avoid “a hard border” with the North. That goal has been achieved and its terms also protect lucrative trade with Britain.
4. Next moves are approval by EU governments at a special leaders’ summit on November 25. The British parliament will vote on it early next month. The European Parliament will be asked to approve it in January. The timetable sees Brexit happening on March 29 next year.
5. But this deal just may not fly. British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing revolt and a possible heave. Some of her own party members are going offside and the DUP have withdrawn support. Expect delays, the prospect of a Brexit-themed general election, and possibly even another Brexit referendum.