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Theresa May demands Cabinet support for breakthrough Brexit deal

The Prime Minister has demanded her Cabinet get behind a Brexit deal reached by EU and UK negotiators.

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Theresa May demands cabinet support for breakthrough #Brexit deal

The text of the agreement has not been published, but reports suggest it contains a ‘backstop’ which would keep the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland, in a customs arrangement with the EU.

 

The Government has insisted the backstop will not be needed because any potential new checks at the the Irish border can be avoided in a future trade agreement or using a separate Irish-specific mechanism.

 

There is also speculation that an independent review panel with members from the EU, UK and a third country could be established to rule on whether progress on the UK’s exit from any temporary customs arrangement is being deliberately frustrated.

 

Some experts, however, believe it will be difficult to trigger the review mechanism and the backstop could become the default position.


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One source close to the European Commission told FG if the UK were to remain in a customs arrangement with the EU, it would be unlikely to have much, if any, say over future trade rules.

 

The text of the agreement is expected to be released after a crunch meeting with the Cabinet today, if Ministers approve it, with December 10 being mooted as a possible date for a parliamentary vote on the plan.

Key questions FG will be asking about the agreement

 

  • What kind of say will the UK have over trade rules? Will tariff rate quotas be jointly managed, for example? Or will the UK be forced to accept agricultural products from other countries the EU does trade deals with in future, with no control?
  • Will the UK’s ability to sign trade agreements including agriculture be constrained because staying in a customs arrangement will stop the Government from being able to change tariffs?
  • Will Northern Ireland be following a different set of rules to the UK, such as those on GM or crop protection?
  • If there are environmental ‘level playing field’ provisions in the agreement which prevent the UK from gaining a competitive advantage, how will they affect farmers? Will the UK be forced to follow EU rules governing air or water quality, for example?
  • Will the UK have responsibility for ensuring continued access to markets the EU already has trade agreements with after March 2019, or the end of the transition period?
  • What kind of access will the UK have to EU food surveillance systems such as the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)?
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