- Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the European Union’s single market as a measure aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island.
- Parliament meets for a special "Super Saturday" session to vote on the agreement.
- The DUP has called the new deal "unacceptable," while the Labour Party claims it is worse than the old deal.
After a week of intense negotiations, the British government and the European Union yesterday formalized a new Brexit agreement that will allow the UK to leave the EU on October 31. However, the new agreement has to be approved by the British Parliament for the process to proceed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has until Saturday to convince his party’s Eurosceptics, Northern Ireland Unionists, and opposition members to vote for the deal. None are so far keen on endorsing it.
“Where there is a will, there is a deal— we have one,” Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, tweeted Thursday. “It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is a testament to our commitment to find solutions.”
As per the draft agreement, Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the European Union’s single market as a measure aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island. Customs checks, however, would be maintained at ports and airports for items coming into the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland.
The agreement was reached yesterday even though the European Council was already preparing to offer a new extension to the United Kingdom. “If we have a deal, we have a deal, and there is no need for a prolongation,” Juncker said in an attempt to pressure British MPs.
This also seems to be Johnson’s strategy to convince critics: to put MPs on the spot of approving this agreement or condemn the UK to a No Deal Brexit from the EU on October 31. “We have a great new deal. It’s time for us to comply with Brexit and work together on our future partnership with the EU, which can be incredibly positive for both sides,” the Prime Minister said yesterday.
The British Parliament meets for a special “Super Saturday” session to vote on the agreement, but there is no certainty. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has said the deal is “unacceptable,” while the Labour Party, through its leader Jeremy Corbyn, said the revised deal was worse than the agreement negotiated by Theresa May last year, which was shot down three times by Parliament.
“Good for both Irish”
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed the agreement reached between the United Kingdom and the EU 27 as “good for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.” Varadkar added, “it’s good for Ireland and NI. No hard border. All-island and East-West economies can continue to thrive. Protects Single Market & our place in it.”
The reaction in Lisbon was also overwhelmingly positive. Newly-re-elected Prime Minister Antonio Costa considered the agreement “great,” and hoped that the deal would be approved “on the fourth turn,” referring to the three times the previous agreement was rejected by the British Parliament. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also called the agreement “magnificent news.”