A Brexit deal has been agreed between UK and EU negotiating teams before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels.
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.
The DUP has cast doubt on its success, saying they still cannot support it.
The Northern Irish party earlier released a statement saying they could not back proposals “as things stand”, and – after the PM’s announcement – said their statement “still stands”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal sounded “even worse” than what was negotiated by the PM’s predecessor, Theresa May, and “should be rejected” by MPs.
But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a “fair and balanced agreement”.
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.”
Both he and Mr Johnson have urged their respective parliaments to back the deal.
Mr Johnson’s proposals for a new Brexit deal hinged on getting rid of the controversial backstop – the solution negotiated between Theresa May and the EU to solve issues around the Irish border after the UK leaves.
By removing it, he hoped to secure the support of Brexiteers in his own party and the DUP – which could hold the key to getting the numbers for a successful vote in the Commons.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the new deal rests on four main elements:
- That Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods
- That Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory, but will “remain an entry point” into the EU’s single market
- That there is an agreement to maintain the integrity of the single market and satisfy the UK’s legitimate wishes over VAT
- That Northern Ireland representatives will be able to decide whether to continue applying union rules in Northern Ireland or not every four years
Mr Barnier told a press conference in Brussels that the final point – allowing for votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly – was “a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach”.
The decision would be based on a simple majority, rather than requiring a majority of both unionists and nationalists to support the rules in order for them to pass.
The DUP has been in a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative Party since the 2017 election, which, in the past, gave the government a working majority.
But after resignations and the removal of the party whip from more than 20 Tory MPs in recent weeks, Mr Johnson now could face a tough battle to get his deal through Parliament.
Is this gamesmanship on the part of Boris Johnson? I surmise he is really trying to turn up the heat on the DUP to get them on board.
But we are heading towards show-time when the PM brings back his deal to the Commons.
There are a lot of MPs who will be unhappy that he is rushing Parliament into a vote when they haven’t had the text to study what they’re voting for.
There’s another emerging battle too as we learnt the Labour Party is increasingly likely to back a so-called confirmatory referendum – meaning they would only approve the deal if it was put to a referendum.
But one thing I’ve been told is that Boris Johnson will not hold a vote on his deal unless he’s confident of winning it.
So we are heading for one humungous showdown.
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