So, the deal with the EU has been agreed (finally), and the process of the UK leaving the European Union is one step closer.
However, despite this breakthrough, it has not stopped Prime Minister, Theresa May, from being under an ever-increasing level of pressure. With tensions in her own party that saw five Cabinet ministers resign in the wake of the deal’s announcement.
Despite this, May has continued to defend the deal, insisting it is the best one for Britain. But what does the deal really mean?
The document which is 599 pages long, addresses a number of issues regarding the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU which will happen on 29 March 2019.
The transition period will begin on 29 March 2019 and is set to last up until 31 December 2020. This transition period, which the UK government are describing as an ‘implementation period’, does have the potential to be extended, but only by a maximum of two years.
If this transition is to be extended, it must be agreed upon by both the UK and the EU. Once they have exited the EU the UK will still need to abide by all of its rules but will lost membership from its institutions.
One of the biggest concerns when the Brexit vote was first announced was what would happen to UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK. Many false stories were written about what might happen to these people, but this deal has now clarified these issues.
The European Parliament made clear that citizens’ rights would be its top priority and it is largely the same as the draft agreement which was released in March. The main point to come out of the agreement is that these UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK will retain their residency and social security rights once Brexit has taken place.
For citizens who take up residency in another EU country during the transition period, they will be allowed to remain there after the transition period. As well as this, for anyone who stays in the same EU country for five years will be allowed to apply for a permanent residence.
While this is all good news, there are still some grey areas. Particularly in regard to what British citizens who may want to move across EU borders for work in the future, will be allowed to do.
What will happen to the Irish border?
Yet another unanswered question about Brexit is what will happen to the Irish border. If, by the end of 2020 no long-term trade deal has been agreed, and if there is no extension to the transition period, then a ‘backstop’ of a ‘single customs territory’ between the EU and UK will be implemented.
Northern Ireland will be in a deeper customs relationship with the EU compared to the rest of the UK. It will also be better aligned with the rules of the EU single market. This means that as long as this ‘backstop’ is in operation, the UK will be able to have a competitive advantage while remaining in the same customs territory.
Many Brexiters are unhappy about this as it means there is no way out of this ‘backstop’ without permission from the EU.
Will there be a TV debate?
Much like we are used to seeing at general elections, it has now been confirmed that a live TV debate will take place regarding the Brexit deal.
All of these issues will be addressed in the movie as May embarks on a two-week campaign to sell the Brexit deal to both MPs and members of the public. There will then be a vote in the House of Commons on 11 December.
The TV debate will see May debate alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with both leaders insisting their parties have the country’s best interests at heart.
Other political parties, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and The Green Party, have since demanded to take part in the debate to ensure a fair range of perspectives are included.
There are a whole host of after dinner speakers on our books who are experts when it comes to Brexit. This includes former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith who recently discussed Britain’s exit from the EU at one of our events.