I was very pleased to hear that the Prime Minister was able to reach an agreement with the European Commission. Jean-Claude Junker has agreed that sufficient progress has been made and that we should now move on to the next stage of talks regarding our future partnership. This is the result of months of hard work from the Government and the Prime Minister.
Talks have resulted in agreement on three key issues surrounding Brexit:
· It secures the rights of three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU
· A fair settlement of the accounts that was reached through positive compromise from both sides. The Prime Minister has confirmed this amount to be between £35-39 billion. Current net contributions are around £10 billion per year so this represents about 4 years at current costs.
· Maintains the Common Travel Area with Ireland and sets out the solid determination for both sides to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
It is important to note that the Prime Minister has stated throughout this process that the United Kingdom will be leaving the Single Market. Parliament will be involved at every stage to ensure that there is sufficient scrutiny of the Brexit process. The Government is working to ensure that UK law is adapted to life outside of the EU. However, whilst agreeing these crucial points in negotiations, it is important to state that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So the financial contributions and the other points above are conditional on us agreeing the next stage of talks on areas such as free trade.
Full details on the announcement made by the Prime Minister and the European Commission can be found online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-report-on-progress-during-phase-1-of-negotiations-under-article-50-teu-on-the-uks-orderly-withdrawal-from-the-eu
I hope that, like me, you welcome these developments. I know that the months leading up to this have involved very intense, but productive debate has taken place on a variety of issues. I believe we can now work together to build a strong and special partnership with the European Union with a smooth withdrawal in March 2019, including a comprehensive free trade deal.