Last week you’ll no doubt have heard news of the long awaited Brexit deal, securing an agreement between the UK and EU negotiators on the first phase of discussions.
This is a huge step forward on the road to our leaving, offering certainty on a number of issues and allowing us to move forward to talk about trade and our future relationship.
The thing that people often forget about our Brexit journey is that it is a totally unprecedented situation. With that in mind it’s no surprise at all that the road is not easy, and that there are challenges along the way. Clearly last week we saw some of those difficulties emerge in discussions around the Northern Ireland borders, but it’s a testament to the PM that she was able to overcome that and reach an agreement with all parties.
The deal has a number of implications for the UK. We now have certainty about the rights of EU citizens already here, as well as the equivalent rights of UK citizens abroad. This is a hugely important thing to ensure that everyone currently here has security about their future, not least the ten per cent of NHS workers who are from abroad and that we rely on to keep those services running.
Second, we have an agreement about the future of that Northern Irish border that keeps both NI and the Republic happy and secure.
Finally we have agreed the system of working out financial arrangements, to ensure we can meet our existing obligations and make a clean break. This is essentially (though this is a much simpler version) about working out what contribution and projects we’ve already signed up to, and setting that against the value of our share of EU assets. We’ve not yet got a figure confirmed, but the system is there and agreed.
This is a really positive and important step.
Whilst obviously not everyone will agree on all aspects of this first phase, it clearly shows the Government’s commitment to delivering our exit from the EU.
In Parliament we’ll continue to push ahead with the EU Withdrawal Bill.
I’m more than happy to clarify any issues or answer questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.