There has been a lot of hullabaloo about Brexit during the past couple of weeks, which is only natural since the E.U. will hold a special summit this Sunday (Nov. 25) “in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement.”
If you don’t know what that Brexit agreement is about, or if you’ve lost your way because of all the Brexit-related noise and fluid situation, then here are the key updates that you need to know about.
1. There is already a draft withdrawal deal
The E.U. and the U.K. were able to work out a draft withdrawal agreement on November 14. And if you really want to, you can read the mind-numbing 585-page document here.
But if you only want the key points, then here they are:
- There will be a transition period that lasts from March 29, 2019 until December 31, 2020, which can be extended for a limited period. This will give governments, businesses, and individuals time to prepare for an actual Brexit and avoid a so-called fall from a “cliff edge”. However, the U.K. will be bound to the E.U. during all the transition period and will have to continue following applicable E.U. rules and regulations and disputes will be decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
- There were no details on the cash amount the U.K. has to pony up in order to leave the E.U., but there was a reminder that “the Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to honour the mutual commitments undertaken while the United Kingdom was a member of the Union through a single financial settlement.”
- If a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland can’t be avoided, then a “backstop solution” would kick in, namely “a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom.” If the backstop is triggered, the U.K. can still leave the customs union but it would need the E.U.’s assent. Also, if the backstop is triggered, then Northern Ireland will have a closer customs union with the E.U.
2. Some MPs are not happy with the draft deal
The second point used to be a controversial topic but it has faded into obscurity lately.
However, the first and last points have caused a ruckus since the ECJ’s jurisdiction over the U.K. during the transition period and requiring the E.U.’s approval in order to leave the customs union (assuming the backstop is triggered) are seen by some pro-Brexit MPs as ceding the U.K.’s sovereignty and/or a sneaky way to keep the U.K. within the E.U.
More importantly, the DUP, which has been supporting the Conservative Party’s minority government, has also expressed dissatisfaction with the deal.
3. Raab is out, Barclay is in
One of the major MPs who expressed discontent with Theresa May’s Brexit deal is Dominic Raab, who announced on November 15 that he no longer wished to be Brexit secretary mainly because of the provisions with regard to the Irish border issue.
Today, I have resigned as Brexit Secretary. I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU. Here is my letter to the PM explaining my reasons, and my enduring respect for her. pic.twitter.com/tf5CUZnnUz
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 15, 2018
And Raab is not the only minister to resign since there were a few others as well.
By the way, Raab’s successor has already accepted the job.
Delighted to accept role at DExEU. We now need to keep up the momentum to finalise the Withdrawal Agreement & outline political declaration & deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK. Looking forward to working with a talented team of ministers & officials to do just that. https://t.co/3KSUI0Xe2I
— Steve Barclay MP (@SteveBarclay) November 16, 2018
4. A leadership challenge is brewing
Since some pro-Brexit MPs are none too happy with British PM Theresa May’s deal, there have been talks of a potential leadership challenge against the PM.
However, Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, had said that the 48 letters needed for a vote of no confidence to oust Theresa May have not yet been met.
And so far, only 26 MPs are known to have sent their letters, so the threat of a leadership challenge is there, but it hasn’t fully materialized … yet.
5. No post-Brexit trade deal yet
It must be stressed that the withdrawal deal IS NOT a trade deal. A trade deal will only be negotiated after an actual Brexit and during the transition period.
However, the E.U. outlined the planned framework for the future relationship between the E.U. and U.K. in a November 14 political declaration.
And basically, the E.U. and the U.K. will work towards a free-trade deal. Here are the relevant deets, if you’re interested.
“Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”
“Zero tariffs, no fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all goods sectors, with ambitious customs arrangements that build on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, respecting the Parties’ legal orders.”