This morning the Prime Minister and President of the European Commission announced an agreement on phase 1 of the negotiations. I believe this deal significantly reduces the chances of a hard Brexit. We are now moving to phase 2 of the talks and the final deal our economy needs is now achievable.
I welcome this deal and congratulate the Prime Minister.
You can see the full joint report here, but below are some of the key outcomes:
I am delighted there is clarity on the rights of EU Citizens in the UK and UK Citizens in the EU.
The three million EU citizens living in the UK now, and the million British living in the EU will have the right to stay. The Withdrawal Agreement will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU or the UK to stay together. It will allow the spouses, children and elderly parents of those protected by the agreement, who live in a different country when the UK leaves the EU, to reunite as a family at any time in the future.
This agreement not only provides certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU Member State – can benefit from what they have put in and continue to benefit from existing coordination rules for future contributions.
The Government have agreed with the European Commission that there will be a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. The scheme will provide a transparent, smooth and streamlined process, the criteria for which will be set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.
These rights will be fully protected in UK law, and enforceable by the UK courts, which can take into account the judgments of the ECJ and for an 8 year period UK courts can refer questions to the ECJ.
Trade and Northern Ireland
The Government has agreed that in the absence of specific solutions, to prevent a hard border with Northern Ireland, the UK will ensure alignment with the relevant rules of the Single Market and Customs Union.
This is something I called for in the House of Commons earlier this week. I believe that the final trade agreement needs to be based on this regulatory alignment and mutual recognition across the whole of the UK. Now we must have a discussion about the substance of what the ongoing relationship will be. I am increasingly attracted to considering an EFTA or Norway type arrangement.