New UK-EU deal breaks Brexit impasse

(VOVWORLD) - Leaders of the other 27 EU countries approved new terms for the UK’s exit from the bloc on Thursday. EU Council President Donald Tusk said approval by the British parliament and the European Parliament will be the last hurdles to surmount. 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the deal was done earlier on Thursday. The deal is due for a vote by the British parliament on Saturday.

Backstop provision removed

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a press conference after the EU and UK leaders reached the agreement that both sides have gotten closer on the backstop provision. The Brexit deal agreed previously between the EU and the then Prime Minister Theresa May, guaranteed the border on the island of Ireland would be kept open. The "backstop", a policy that would have kept the entire UK in the EU's customs area and was rejected three times by UK Houses of Commons, has gone.

In the new deal, the EU and UK agree with Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland will stay in the UK's customs union. But a set of EU rules on goods will continue to apply. Related checks will happen when goods arrive to Northern Ireland, rather across the island of Ireland.

The “backstop” removal is considered a breakthrough in the Brexit process. The British pound gained 1% and traded at 1.29 USD on Thursday.

Divided UK

UK Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on MPs to reject the deal, saying the “sell-out deal won’t bring the country together and should be rejected and the best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote.” He said the Brexit deal brokered between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union is “even worse” than the settlement reached by Johnson’s predecessor. He warned of food safety risk, lower environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up the UK’s National Health Service to a takeover by US private corporations.

Jo Swinson, leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, said the new deal will negatively affect multiple areas like the economy, public services, and the environment in the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, says her party will not vote for the new Brexit deal. She said the announced deal “would take Scotland out of the European Union, out of the single market and out of the customs union against the overwhelming democratic will of the people of Scotland.”

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, a senior minister and leading Brexiter, said the new Brexit agreement is a “really good, exciting deal."

EU reaction

EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed the last-minute deal reached by the UK Prime Minister and the EU ahead of the EU Summit. He said the deal is “fair and reasonable and corresponds to their  principles." 

President of the European Council Donald Tusk appreciated the Brexit agreement, saying that “a deal is a much better scenario than no deal.”

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the new Brexit deal, saying it can only be secured if both the British and European legislatures back the agreement.

 All eyes are now on whether or not Prime Minister Johnson, who pledged to bring the UK out of the EU by Saturday, can garner enough support for the deal to get it approved by Parliament.

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