Prime Minister Boris Johnson has done the impossible: he has convinced the EU to renegotiate the Brexit agreement after the bloc said it would never renegotiate.
Now, he just has to get the deal through Parliament.
“Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive both for the UK and for the EU,” said Johnson.
The withdrawal agreement was unanimously endorsed by EU leaders and will be voted on by the UK Parliament this Saturday.
Johnson needs 320 votes to win. The Labor Party (224 votes) and DUP (10 votes) have promised to oppose the deal, and we can expect most of the Liberal Democrats to vote against it as well. Most Conservatives and former Conservatives (now Independents) will support the deal, but not all.
Johnson, who promised voters he would achieve Brexit by October 31st, has urged MPs to “come together” and “get this excellent deal over the line.”
If the deal goes through, the UK will pay a divorce bill of $42.4 billion and continue to follow EU rules until the end of 2020. If the deal is rejected, Johnson will be forced by law to ask for an extension to the October 31st deadline.
European Council President Donald Tusk said he would consult member states if asked for an extension.
“On a more personal note, what I feel today is – frankly speaking – sadness, because in my heart I will always be a Remainer and I hope that if our British friends decide to return one day, our door will always be open,” said Tusk.
The deal itself is similar to the one agreed to by former Prime Minister Theresa May last year, with the key difference being Northern Ireland.
The revised deal avoids border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by establishing Northern Ireland as the entry point into the EU’s customs zone.
Northern Ireland will remain a part of the UK’s customs territory but will be aligned with the EU’s single market. The UK will not impose tariffs on goods entering Northern Ireland; instead, a joint EU/UK committee will determine which goods are at risk of entering the single market and the EU will collect tariffs on them.
The Northern Ireland Assembly will vote once every four years on whether to continue the trading arrangement.
Northern Ireland’s DUP fears the agreement will lead to higher costs and fewer choices for consumers in Northern Ireland and worries the EU will have veto power on which imports to tax – ultimately giving Northern Ireland a weaker position in the UK.
“These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union,” said the DUP.
Johnson hopes the DUP will support his deal if they are forced to choose between it and a no-deal Brexit.
Author’s Note: It has now been 3 years and 4 months since the British people voted to leave the EU. The opposition is doing everything it can to prevent Brexit, but the people have made it clear what they want.
If Johnson pulls it off, he will be a hero to Democracy.
Update: The Parliament has voted to delay Brexit once again, dealing a blow to Johnson. But it was a close vote, and Boris is still determined to make his October 31st date.