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A new deal; now what?

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

Both UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU President Junker have announced that a revised deal has been done for the UK to withdraw from the European Union. But both accept that it's not a done deal. Junker has to go back to the European Commission and its 27 members some of whom are resistant to the principle of "Brexit." Johnson has to go back to the House of Commons where several party leaders are, in effect, filibustering to defeat the withdrawal on any terms. And in Brussels, in the EU Parliament, which also has to sign off on the deal, the UK's Brexit Party's leader, Nigel Farage, has already said he doesn't approve of it.

Where there is room for trouble is in relation to new EU law that has an effect on the protocol. This does mark the border between a negotiated settlement and a brutal, complete withdrawal. The provision, at Article 13.4 does exactly what many leavers fear: that the EU can adopt laws that affect the UK but the UK has no input into those laws. The provision is that the EU can do exactly what it wants but it must consult the Joint Committee on effect and implementation on the Protocol. But even then there is room for manoeuvre provided both sides deal in good faith. If we see the same brinkmanship and hard line attitudes that we have seen over the exit agreement, then the process will be fraught. However, the mechanism has a series of fall-back provisions to ease the path of such activity.

It is quite clear that the primary purpose of the negotiations has been to sort out the problem over the so-called Irish Backstop. The remainder of the previous agreement remains basically untouched. This is consistent with the demands of the DUP which said that it would never accept the backstop and the EU always refused to put a final considered version of its backstop demands in clear written form. Now everything is clear, at least as to the framework and how remaining matters will be decided even though a decision has not yet been made.

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