UK ditches Irish clauses in Withdrawal Agreement
Tensions have been running high on the Irish border
Boris Johnson has agreed to drop parts of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland in the first key step to sealing a deal with the EU.
The UK Cabinet Office said the Uk government had agreed in principle on issues such as border controls and the supply of medicines.
It will mean there will be no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The government says it will now withdraw controversial clauses in the Internal Market Bill.
There had been hints, reported by Daily Business this morning, that the UK government was preparing to offer concessions in the bill to help ease tensions with the EU.
In a statement issued later, the Cabinet Office said: “Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said he was “delighted” to have reached a compromise with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic on post-Brexit arrangements for the Irish border.
Mr Gove thanked Mr Sefcovic for his “constructive and pragmatic approach” adding that he would update Parliament on progress in Brexit talks tomorrow.
Michael Gove: delighted
The details of the agreement have not been published but are expected to be rubber stamped in the coming days.
Negotiations to reach a post-Brexit trade deal are still ongoing. However, the agreement on Ireland and Northern Ireland will apply regardless of whether the two sides can agree a trade deal.
Louise Haigh Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: “This is a welcome step forward, after months of crippling uncertainty for Northern Ireland.
“An agreement, not reckless threats, has always been the responsible way forward.
“Huge challenges remain to implement the Protocol by January 1st, and the Government must now work flat out to help businesses prepare, deliver the much-needed detail, and ensure the new arrangements impact as little as possible on Northern Ireland.”
Norway and Iceland deals agreed
The UK has today signed a post-Brexit rollover trade deal with Norway and Iceland.
The agreement ensures 95% of goods trade with Norway and over 90% with Iceland will remain tariff-free.
This should provide businesses with certainty that they can continue to operate on the same terms as they do today when the transition period ends.