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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a knife-edge vote on his last-minute Brexit deal in the House of Commons on Saturday. But except for replacing the contentious “backstop” with new arrangements to ensure an open border in Ireland, the agreement Johnson struck with the EU is similar to that of his predecessor – which was rejected by parliament three times.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has touted his Brexit agreement as a “great new deal that takes back control” – but less than 5 percent of it differs from his predecessor Theresa Mays proposal (which he voted against twice), according to an analysis by The Guardian.
“Most of the Johnson deal is cut and pasted from Theresa Mays Withdrawal Agreement,” according to Jill Rutter, programme director at the Institute for Government.
If the House of Commons passes the prime ministers agreement, the UK would pay a “divorce bill” on its outstanding commitments to the EU budget, estimated at £33 billion (€33.4 billion). The rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British subjects in the EU would also be guaranteed.
There would still be a “transition period”, during which the two sides would discuss their future relationship, while the UK would remain under EU rules until December 2020, when the UK would leave the EU single market and customs union.
Johnson plans to strike a free-trade deal with the EU during the transition period. The kind of arrangement the prime minister envisages – in which there would be no tariffs or quotas on trade between the EU and the UK, but there would be regulatory barriers because of the latter being outside the single market and customs union – would cost Britain between 4.9 and 6.7 percent in GDP growth over 15 years, according to the governments own analysis.
Irish border moves, in effect, into the Irish Sea
The only part of the deal that has been changed relates to Northern Ireland, with the controversial “backstop” removed. The original proposal would have kept the UK under some EU rules until both sides agreed on new arrangements to ensure an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – a key feature of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence.
The backstop was anathema to many right-wing Tory backbenchers – who provoked Mays downfall by repeatedly rejecting her deal, and then formed the bedrock of support for Johnsons successful Conservative leadership campaign – because it could have kept the UK bound to some EU laws indefinitely.
Under Johnsons agreement, the Northern Irish border will remain open; there will be no customs checks on the frontier between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Instead of the backstop to guarantee this, there will be customs checks on goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
This means that the Irish border “moves, in effect, into the Irish Sea”, noted Katy Haywood, a senior fellow at the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, in a Twitter post.
Customs checks in Irish Sea real problem for DUP
Northern Ireland will still abide by EU laws for at least four years after the transition period ends in December 2020. At the end of that Read More – Source