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Brexit: Negotiators Agree To A 21-Month Transition Process

Brexit: Negotiators Agree To A 21-Month Transition Process

The two sides agreed yesterday that there needed to be a "backstop" plan to avoid a hard border with Ireland, but remain divided on what form a future border will take.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, told a news conference with Brexit Secretary David Davis that none of this is legally binding until a whole treaty is ratified before Brexit a year from now.

The transitional period is set to last from March 29, 2019, to December 2020, and is meant to smooth the path to a future permanent relationship.

The UK will retain the benefits of the single market and customs union for "near enough to the two years we asked for", Davis said, albeit while losing its role in any decision-making institutions.

Davis, who unlike May campaigned for Brexit, said he was pleased with European Union agreement to let Britain negotiate and sign trade deals with other countries while remaining covered by European Union common trade policy during the transition.

A draft transition agreement unveiled by the two sides included a protocol on Ireland marked in yellow, indicating that Britain had accepted all the EU's principles but wanted to discuss the operational issues.

It is also reported today that Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney is en route to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, and we would presume, David Davis.

We reiterate that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and the European Parliament, as with the European Council, will decide independently whether the final negotiated withdrawal agreement is acceptable or not.

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"It is welcome that they have finally struck a deal on transition and now the government must prioritize negotiating a final agreement that protects jobs, the economy and guarantees there will be no hard border in Northern Ireland", said Starmer.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has described as unacceptable any possible deal that cuts Northern Ireland off from the rest of the United Kingdom by leaving the British-ruled province subject to European Union rules after Brexit.

Sterling climbed to $1.41 against the dollar and reached 87 pence against the euro on news of the deal.

To the delight of May's officials, the latest draft of the exit treaty published Monday contains an explicit promise that the United Kingdom can negotiate any of these deals during the transition phase - without asking the EU's permission first.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said the British Government should come up with credible proposals to ensure the rights of people in the North are protected.

The UK is hoping to make new deals with European Union countries once it leaves, to make sure they can still sell their goods there without having to pay heavy taxes (or tariffs).

"A transition deal in time for this week's EU Summit (22-23 March) appears unlikely but markets have, to a large extent, already priced that in", says Hamish Pepper with Barclays.

Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said: "Despite once claiming they held all the cards in the negotiations, in the end the Brexiteers have been prepared to compromise and surrender on nearly every single point".


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