A Analysis

The draft Brexit agreements explained

Two draft Brexit agreements have been released in the last week as Theresa May battles forward in an attempt to pull together a Brexit deal with the European Union.

On Wednesday 14 November, a draft withdrawal agreement was released, but what does this 585-page document contain?

- The document has the purpose of setting out how the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.

- The document focuses on multiple areas, including money, citizens' rights, the transition periods, laws, fishing and more. 

Some key messages in the document include;

  • The transition period begins on 29 March 2019 and lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK must abide by all EU laws but the country will lose its membership of the EU's institutions.
  • The draft agreement sets out calculations for the financial settlement for the UK's departure from the bloc, which is expected to be at £39billion and will be paid over a number of years.
  • UK citizens in the EU, and vice versa, will retain their residency and social security rights after the UK's departure from the bloc.
  • Northern Ireland will be in a considerably deeper customs relationship with the EU after the Brexit than the rest of the UK, and the country will also be more closely aligned with the rules and regulations of the EU single market.

On Thursday 22 November, a draft text was released for a political declaration on the UK's future relationship with the European Union.

- The 16-page document outlines how UK-EU trade, security and other issues will work after Brexit.

- The document has been agreed in principle by officials in London and Brussels.

Some key messages in the draft text for the declaration include;

  • A commitment to respect the EU's four freedoms - free movement of money, people, goods and services
  • An aspiration to use technology in order to ensure no backstop needs to be used in Ireland
  • A specific reference to the end of free movement in the UK

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has insisted that both agreements deliver the Brexit people voted for in the EU referendum and that it will deliver a Brexit in the national interest. Following the announcement of the withdrawal agreement, Theresa May lost 7 members of her team, including 2 cabinet ministers within 24 hours. Dominic Raab quit as Brexit secretary, paving the way for Stephen Barclay, a former junior health minister and Brexiteer to be the third person to take the reigns of the leader of the Department for Exiting the European Union.

What Happens Now?Theresa May is facing continued opposition from all sides over both agreements, which will have to be voted on first by each EU member state in a scheduled extraordinary summit on the 25 November, before the agreement goes to Parliament, who are expected to vote against the draft deal.

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