06:46 GMT26 January 2021
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    Final Countdown? UK, EU Strike Brexit Deal (28)

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his country and Brussels have reached a “great new” Brexit deal, the text of which still needs the approval of the UK and the EU parliaments, against the backdrop of the crunch EU summit and with the fast approaching 31 October withdrawal deadline.

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is confident his new Brexit deal can be ratified by the departure date of 31 October and it will go forward for a vote in parliament on Saturday, Reuters reported his spokeswoman as saying.

    Legislation would then be needed to formally ratify the agreement.

    Asked whether Johnson was confident the necessary legislation could be approved in time for the October deadline, the spokeswoman said:

    "The public would expect if the deal is passed, for MPs to do everything they can to pass it on time and yes we are confident that we can do that," adding the deal will ensure Britain leaves the European Union in an orderly way.

    ‘Great New deal’

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new deal earlier in the day, ahead of the crunch EU summit that Brussels hosts this Thursday and Friday, after British and EU negotiators raced against time to hammer out a new agreement.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted:

    "We've got a great new deal that takes back control."

    The two sides have been working on the legal text of a deal, but it will still need the approval of both the UK and European parliaments.

    Mixed response to new deal

    Responses to the new Brexit deal have been coming in, with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party holding out in opposition to the Brexit deal struck between London and Brussels.

    Hours before London and Brussels announced they had found an agreement, the DUP said it could not support what was proposed regarding customs and consent issues, as well as sales tax arrangements.

    The party said it wants a deal that "protects the economic and constitutional integrity" of the United Kingdom.

    Following the news from Brussels, a DUP source told AFP that the earlier statement "remains our position".

    The DUP, which supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government, holds major sway in whether a deal can get through parliament.

    Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already spoken out against the new agreement.

    Corbyn said Boris Johnson had agreed a worse Brexit deal than his predecessor Theresa May, which was overwhelmingly rejected by parliament, after Britain and the EU agreed an amended agreement.

    "From what we know, it seems the Prime Minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May’s, which was overwhelmingly rejected," Corbyn said.
    "This sell-out deal won’t bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote."

    Asked whether he would put forward a motion of no-confidence to try to bring down Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a planned extraordinary session in parliament on Saturday, Corbyn said the weekend was a time to discuss the Brexit deal and other issues would be for next week, reported Reuters.

    The leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, said the deal should not be supported.

    The leader of the Scottish National Party says her party will not vote for the new Brexit deal agreed between the UK government and the European Union, AP reported.

    Nicola Sturgeon says the deal announced "would take Scotland out of the European Union, out of the single market and out of the customs union against the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland."

    In a written statement she says her party's lawmakers "will not vote for Brexit in any form."

    ‘Fair and balanced deal’

    Michael Gove, the British minister in charge of the government's preparations for Brexit, said talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart on Thursday had been constructive and he was delighted they had reported progress.

    "The conversations between the prime minister and Leo Varadkar, they were cordial, they were constructive, they were open and they say there's going to be progress, so I'm delighted," he told BBC TV.

    Ireland's foreign minister on Thursday welcomed the Brexit deal struck by the British government and the European Union as "a big step forward".

    "Its a deal that recognises all of the issues that we have been raising for the last three years. It is a deal that will protect people on this island, it will protect peace on this island, it will protect trade on this island," said Simon Coveney.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker referred to the new agreement on Brexit as "fair and balanced".

    In a letter recommending the deal to European Council President Donald Tusk, he wrote:

    "It is high time to complete the withdrawal process and move on, as swiftly as possible, to the negotiation on the European Union's future partnership with the United Kingdom."

    Controversial backstop

    Johnson's proposals for a new Brexit deal hinged on getting rid of the backstop - the solution negotiated between Theresa May and the EU to solve issues around the Irish border after the UK exits the bloc.

    By removing it, he hoped to secure the support of Brexiteers in his own party and the DUP.

    The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the new deal rests on four main elements.

    Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods.

    It will stay in the UK's customs territory, but will "remain an entry point" into the EU's single market.

    There is an agreement to maintain the integrity of the single market and satisfy the UK's legitimate wishes over VAT, and Northern Ireland representatives will be able to decide whether to continue applying union rules in Northern Ireland or not every four years.

    Barnier told a press conference in Brussels that allowing for votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly was "a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach".

    'Super saturday'

    Boris Johnson is summoning MPs to an emergency Saturday sitting in Parliament on 19 October - just 24 hours after a crunch EU summit.

    The proposed Saturday session in Parliament is also the date by which Johnson must ask the European Union for another delay to Brexit under the Benn Act, if no deal has been approved by Parliament and they have not agreed to the UK leaving without an agreement in place.

    Final Countdown? UK, EU Strike Brexit Deal (28)


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