IRELAND has secured a deal that ensure Britain will maintain a very close relationship with the EU. If all that is agreed today comes to pass, the UK has essentially committed to a soft Brexit.
In an early morning press conference following confirmation of a deal by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May and her EU counterparts in Brussels, the Irish government announced it secured everything required to avoid a hard border on the island.
The text confirms the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and commits “In the absence of agreed solutions” or an EU – UK free trade agreement that “the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement,” it says.
In a surprising intervention during the week, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said regulatory alignment could be preserved throughout the UK so as not to isolate Northern Ireland.
Today that agreement on full regulatory alignment among the UK and EU was confirmed.
It means trade can continue fully between the two islands and the rest of Europe.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “the fact that we’re talking in terms of fully regulatory alignment I think is very helpful”.
“Whatever new relationship exists between the EU and UK, if we’re going to have free and unfettered free trade then by definition we’re going to have to play by the same rules” thereby allowing free trade continue.
“Connected to free trade is the principle that you trade on a level playing field and you don’t have free trade, unfettered free trade with a country that has lower health standards or lower environmental standards, inferior labour laws or lower safety standards”, he said.
“Things are very much moving in the right direction.”
“We never wanted Brexit to happen so obviously its in our interests that the Brexit that does happen and is going to happen is as soft as it can be but ultimately it’s a matter for the UK government”.
The Taoiseach said Theresa May has the full support of her cabinet.
However, it is very difficult to see how such an agreement can work alongside the aspirations of hard Brexiteer hoping to do trade with the US and other countries whose regulations are fundamentally different.
Expect some serious Tory rancour later.
SO British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker got up very early in the morning in Brussels to announce a breakthrough in the Brexit talks that allow them to move on to the next phase.
THE European Commission has announced it is recommending to the European Council that "sufficient progress" has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks - which had initially floundered on the status of the Irish border.