PM Johnson announced recently that he has reached a Brexit deal for the UK to leave the European Union. In a nutshell, the revised version is aimed at preventing a harsh border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. The new protocol replaces the controversial Irish backstop plan in Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Much of the rest, however will remain the same as Mrs May’s deal.
With all the backlash in the media, it’s often hard to comprehend what the new brexit plan entails.
We’ve prepared some short summaries of its key parts.
The UK will be leaving the Customs Union, the UK will be able to create its own new trade deals with other countries. A legal customs border will exist between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which stays in the EU). Duty (tax) won’t automatically have to be paid on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.But where something is “at risk” of then being transported into the Republic of Ireland (which is part of the EU customs union), duty will be paid. A joint committee made up of UK and EU representatives will decide at a later date what goods are considered “at risk”.
Northern Ireland will be set apart from the rest of the UK with regards to customs and other EU rules, the deal gives its Assembly a vote on these provisions.
However, the vote is not due to happen until four years after the end of the transition period that is due to run until the end of 2020; therefore no earlier than January 2025.
If the Northern Irish Assembly votes against the provisions, they would lose force two years later during which time the “joint committee” would make recommendations to the UK and EU on “necessary measures”.
What has not changed
Much of Mrs May’s original Brexit deal will remain as part of the overall agreement.
The transition – a period of time during which all of the current rules stay the same allowing the UK and the EU to negotiate their future relationship – is due to last until the end of December 2020.
The UK will need to abide by EU rules and pay into the EU budget, but will lose membership of its institutions.
The transition can be extended, but only for a period of one or two years.
Both the UK and EU must agree to any extension.
The rights of citizens
UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, will retain their residency and social security rights after Brexit.
Freedom of movement rules will continue to apply during transition.
Anyone who remains in the same EU country for five years will be allowed to apply for permanent residence.
The UK’s divorce bill
The UK will have to settle its financial obligations to the EU.
Although there is no specific figure but the biggest part of this “divorce bill” will be the UK contributions to 2019 and 2020 EU budgets.
As Brexit was delayed from 29 March to 31 October 2019, some of that money has been paid as part of the UK’s normal membership contributions already. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that the bill is now around £33bn (down from £39bn).
The OBR expects that most of the money – around three-quarters of the total – would be paid by 2022.