By Eva Rian, International News Writer
After an initial failure to secure a deal in Brussels on December 4th, Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union have managed to strike a last-minute deal. This preliminary divorce sees the United Kingdom conceding to EU’s demands on most points in favor of what both the British PM and businesses are likely most eager to nail down – a post-Brexit trade deal to be decided in “phase two” talks, which will cover a “transitional exit period, trade and long-term relations with the bloc,” as detailed by France 24.
During this period of time, while Britain will still be part of the customs union and single market, it does not retain a voting role in EU institutions and remains subject to EU laws. While May called for a new “ambitious economic partnership” during a key speech in Florence last September, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier has since definitively stated that Britain’s insistence on leaving the single market and customs union ensured that a post-Brexit free trade agreement would be modeled on the bloc’s deal with Canada, calling this a non-negotiable point. Ultimately, clarity on what future trade and transition will look like for Britain is a must for May if she wants to secure her premiership, which has already faced challenges; her party already lost its majority in snap elections last June. OZY reports that the current terms of agreement include guarantees on the rights of EU citizens in the U.K. and British citizens in Europe, avoidance of a “hard” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a pledge that Britain will honor its monetary commitments to the bloc, with a financial settlement from Britain somewhere between £35 and £39 billion.
Tension still lingers amongst UK politicians regarding these terms – writing in the Daily Telegraph, one of the cabinet’s leading Brexiteers, Michael Gove, noted that if the British people dislike the arrangement, they can vote to change it during the next general election. Bloomberg adds that Arlene Foster, who heads the Northern Irish party holding the balance of power in London, said her Democratic Unionist lawmakers could still veto a final exit if they’re not happy. According to the BBC, the European Commission president has hailed the deal as a “breakthrough” and is confident EU leaders will approve it; indeed, if negotiations are to proceed, they will need to formally back the deal at the European Council summit on the 14th.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.
Contact Eva at