Britain and EU clinch deal to move Brexit talks forward

Published 08/12/2017 in World

Britain and EU clinch deal to move Brexit talks forward
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union struck a deal on Friday to move on to talk about trade and a transition period after they agreed the outline of their divorce, easing the pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May.

The European Commission said enough progress had been made after the two sides worked through the night to end an impasse over the status of the Irish border that had scuppered an earlier attempt to clinch a deal on Monday.

The Commission gave its verdict in a statement after intense talks, which resulted in British Prime Minister Theresa May taking an early-morning flight to Brussels to announce the deal alongside Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Donald Tusk, the chairman of European Union leaders, welcomed the deal but said London still needed to provide more clarity on the new relationship after Brexit, and bemoaned the fact the first round of talks had taken so long.

“We all know that breaking up is hard, but breaking up and building a new relation is much harder,” he said. “So much time has been devoted to the easier task and now … we have de facto less than a year” left for talks before Britain is due to leave in March, 2019.

Sterling GBP=D3 rose to its highest since Dec. 4 against the U.S. dollar, and hit a six-month high against the euro EURGBP=D3.

The Commission’s recommendation that sufficient progress has been made will now go to the European Union summit of leaders taking place next week.

Factbox: What’s in the Brexit divorce deal?

  • Britain’s Johnson congratulates PM May on Brexit talks progress
  • Senior pro-Brexit minister Gove backs PM May deal on EU exit: BBC
  • Not everyone agreed. “A deal in Brussels is good news for Mrs May as we can now move on to the next stage of humiliation,” leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said on Twitter.

    In the text, Britain agreed that should London and Brussels fail to agree a final Brexit deal, the United Kingdom will maintain “full alignment” with those rules of the internal market and customs union that help to protect north-south cooperation in Ireland.

    It said in the absence of a trade deal, no new barriers would develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom unless the devolved government in Northern Ireland agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate.

    “In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market,” it said. .

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